Film photography is yoga

Film photography is yoga

Erik van Rosmalen

Every now and then, I get myself lured into a discussion on film versus digital. ‘Digital is way faster.
It’s sharper. Easier. Better, cheaper, more practical…’ Absolutely, sure. Whatever. But still. Film does add something to the equation that a sensor can’t. But what?

Years ago, I was approached by a young woman studying to be a yoga instructor. She needed some pictures for her website.
I brought my digital gear, as I always do on commercial assignments. But she explicitly asked me to also shoot some film portraits, as she knew that was my preferred style.

We shot three rolls, whilst talking about her passion. And it suddenly came to me: the similarities between shooting film and doing yoga…
I guess shooting film for me is a form of yoga. Mindfully working on all aspects of a portrait. The technical part, off course; metering light, setting up lights, determining shutter speeds and aperture.

More attention for technical details. But it’s more than just that. It’s about talking to your subject. Getting to know them. And only then figuring out the shot. Instead of a firing frenzy from the start...

The last years, If I go on a short vacation or a city trip, I leave my digital gear at home. I bring just a 35mm camera and a few rolls of film.
My rule of thumb? Only one film a day. So that’s 36 pictures per day, max. What it gives me? More time to enjoy the moment. And to shoot what really counts. It calms me down and prevents me from coming home with 1,000 images. Of which the lion's share can go straight to the trash anyway, or end up occupying hard disc space.

Let’s translate that to a portrait session. In the digital arena, shooting for two hours might very well lead to, what, 400 pictures?
A two hour session with a model shooting film, might lead to three or four rolls of 12 exposures each (I mainly shoot medium format, 6x6). So that’s 36 or 48 pictures.
At the end of the day, 400 digital ór 48 analog pictures both lead to about 4 pics that are really great…

Portrait Malon
Whilst looking for a riverside location for a swim suit session, we strolled through this dirt road and decided to shoot some casual portraits. Mamiya 645, Kodak Tmax100.

The same goes in boudoir. Shooting less, and talking more makes me get to know the client/model. That creates a connection that will enhance the pictures, making it worth more than an overkill of shots.

Boudoir, Miss B
Boudoir session with miss B, shot in her own home. With hardly any camera experience whatsoever. Mamiya C330s, Kodak Tmax400.
Boudoir, Valentina Rose
Burlesque performer and singer Valentina Rose. In her own small apartment in The Hague we set up a boudoir scene, as if she was getting ready for the show. Mamiya C330s, Kodak Tmax400.

Just like yoga, film photography requires a calm approach. Finding focus. And not just inside the viewfinder. It’s about finding balance. Thinking before doing. And that’s what makes a better photograph, eventually. Don’t you think?

About the author
filmphotonetwork photographer Erik van Rosmalen is a digital content creator (text, video, visuals) by day, film photographer by night. You can find his profile here.


21 Oct 2020 07:18 am Erik van Rosmalen Danii Wilmsen
Dank. Er komen er zeker nog meer hier op FPN!
20 Oct 2020 09:10 pm Danii Wilmsen  
Leuk om te lezen hoe je het aanpakt, met meer aandacht voor degene die je fotografeert. Ben benieuwd naar wat voor foto’s je nog meer hebt :)
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