Last month, my husband and I took a train trip to Austria and Germany. We were excited about traveling by train and getting lost in the woods and mountains. When we were planning what to bring with us, I decided that this trip would be the perfect opportunity to have a more unplugged vacation than usual. So, we packed up some portable games, a few books, and several rolls of film, plus a trusty old film camera. My digital camera? It stayed at home.
We returned from our trip over a month ago and I finally dropped my film off to the lab and received my scans back. So, was it miserable waiting this long for our vacation photos? Nope. I barely even thought about it besides the fact that I kept ending up with half a roll to finish, hence the longer than usual delay getting everything dropped off to the lab.
The thing is, I noticed very few drawbacks to traveling this way and instead, I noticed quite a few benefits. Here’s why I will continue to shoot film on vacations as a way to unplug.
1. Film gives you time back!
Having a set number of exposures to work with as opposed to the almost limitless amount of photos digital allows for made me a much more discerning photographer. Often, I would frame a photo only to realize it wasn’t very interesting, so I simply wouldn’t snap the shutter and we’d move on with our day. When I did find subjects worthy of my limited film exposures, I only took one photo and we quickly moved on. Besides the time we saved not taking nearly as many photos, we also saved time by not having any photos to share or post to social media while we were supposed to be away enjoying vacation! Instead, we just enjoyed what we were doing.
2. Film can eliminate choice paralysis.
One of the most surprising takeaways? Even though we only took each shot once, including the portraits we took of each other while on vacation, we both like our faces in most of them. Usually, we’re just like everyone else when it comes to photos. Take a photo, decide you don’t like the way you look, take it again… and again and again and again. I don’t think film is magic. I just think eliminating the choice paralysis does wonders for what we’re willing to accept!
3. Film is a lesson in patience.
We are all so used to the instant gratification of having phones that allow us to snap whatever we see and share that with the world instantly. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it can be a really nice lesson in patience to simply not be able to real-time share what you’re doing! I think it really helped us stay present and enjoy the time we had to spend with each other.
4. Shooting film is a fun hobby.
More than anything, shooting film is simply fun. Whether you’re into the cameras, film stocks, or don’t care so much about what you shoot with, it’s a really rewarding hobby because you almost entirely eliminate the need to edit anything after. Film really is all about the moment you are making the photo.
5. Film is timeless.
Though many try to replicate the timeless feel of film with digital presets emulating the look (myself included), it’s really hard to convincingly replicate film with digital. There are many technical reasons for this, but here’s an easy solution: shoot the real thing. I feel like these film vacation images are the ones I’m going to print and save and look at years from now. The photos which quickly amass on my phone? Not so much.
When was the last time you shot film? I find the manual process really satisfying. It feels much more like a hands-on creation than digital does. This was my first attempt at film in a few years and I must say that I learned quite a bit just from the few rolls I shot on this trip.
Even though lots of people say this, film isn’t magic. It won’t magically turn bad light into good light. The same rules apply as always. I ended up with plenty of less than great shots on my vacation rolls, with plenty of over- and under-exposure, too.
I took so many photos of buildings in Munich, only to realize once I received the scans that photos of buildings are really not all that interesting to me. But making mistakes is part of the fun and a good way to lighten up and not stress too much about the end result. Just enjoy the process and if you end up with a few good shots and enjoyed yourself while doing it, then it was worth it!
All photos shot on Kodak Gold 200 // Developed and scanned by f8 Vintage Camera Shop