Keep the Faith

I’ve been somewhat disillusioned with film photography, of late. It happens once every couple of years, this questioning of my faith in analogue. Sometimes it’s as shallow as finding out that yet another photographer, whose work I admire, has jumped onto the digital ship and sailed away. But most of the time, it’s down to one uncomplicated factor. Money.
Every roll of film I shoot, whether 35mm or medium format, costs about £15 – £5 for the film and £10 for developing and scanning, and that’s not even high-resolution scans, that’s for medium quality scans for web use. So, with 35mm, it’s £0.42 every time I press the shutter, with medium format, it’s a whopping £1.50. I can comfortably go through five rolls of film during one trip on a fishing trawler, the last time I was out I burnt through ten rolls. The maths is simple – with incidental costs, each time I crawl out of bed at 3am to get down to Peel breakwater, I know it’s going to cost me up to £170.
‘Holmtown’, thus far, has been entirely self-funded, and it’s nowhere near finished, so I’m sure this lack of confidence in my beliefs is understandable. However, having seen the three-dimensional beauty of these latest images, I will continue to shoot film, even at £1.50 a pop…

All images made using a Pentax 67II, 105mm lens and Kodak Portra 160 and 800.


  1. I’m feeling the same pain and have had to go back to doing my own scanning to get the costs down (something I started after reading here about your scanning in the days you went that route). Sadly I just can’t match the results I get from places like the Canadian Film Lab, not even close most of the time. I can’t see not shooting film though – my DSLR gets little use most of the time. And when I look at photos like yours I am ever more determined to stick with film and to improve my results.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Nice to see the Pentax being used and getting some portraits! Which ones are KP 160? I’m sooo going out on a trawler with you before you finish this project 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gotta be honest with you, Phil. I absolutely looovvveee your film work – yet I’m not your purchaser. I shoot digital and love it, only recently beginning again to use film in the last three months (F100 per other comments on previous posts). There’s a very special mystery about film – both in look and use that I find thrilling. Yet, a lot of folks are shooting hybrid, which I’m just starting to do with a transition toward just beginning to use film again. But you, of course, are the one who must feel it – and it’s you and your artistry that must drive it. If you look at film and digital simply as tools then that might help. I don’t say this to bait you – I share it because I believe it. Perhaps loyalty and even guilt could factor in your thinking. I say be free to do as you wish – you are the artist. Want to share two more thoughts… 1) i just wrote a post and referenced you at the end… I find you inspiring! 2) I just shot a roll of Fujichrome Provia 100F and was just silly over how it looked. Don’t know if you’ve shot with it before but I was really surprised with the results.
    Hurry, though, if interested as Fuji apparently is discontinuing the 5-roll packs. Thanks for sharing your struggle – it seems to be quite a natural one.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I had this same dilema recently. I was opting for high res scans so a roll of 12 on the Hasselblad would cost about £2.20 per frame. I wanted to explore removing the scan cost from the equation since this is the most expensive part, but never got around to seeing if I could easily scan my own images. There is a chap called Tom Sebastiano who doing his whole work flow of developing and scanning himself and has written an extensive ‘how to’ blog on his learning. It’s well worth a look if you’ve not already come across him though I suspect you have.

    One thing I would say is that your work would be just as good on digital as on film; it’s not that you shoot analogue that we like your work, it’s the humanity and pathos that appeals. You won’t get quite the same look processing digital files, especially not MF film, but you could get pretty close. Just a thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m new to your blog and not really aware of all of the issues around analogue/digital. Just wanted to say that however you got there, the final images are of stunning quality. Thanks for sharing them.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, I can totally relate to that. When I lived in Düsseldorf, I could use a local lab where film development only cost about 4,50 Euro and took 1 day. I still had to do the scans myself but that was fine. Sending the film to a good lab by mail to have the film developed and scanned typically costs about 14 Euro at least so I’m at nearly 20 Euro per roll of 35 mm or 120. So I just started developed the film myself at home which is much cheaper (if you should enough rolls to use up the chemicals before they expire) and only takes about a day to see the results. I found it really satisfying to come home after shooting a roll of film, spent some time in the evening to develop it and scan the pictures the following morning.

    However, I’m not shooting much at the moment and mostly used Polaroid and Fuji Instax cameras last year where the price per image is between 1,5-2,25 Euro per image. It’s a bit ridiculous when you think about it but it’s been fun and nice to hold the finished picture in your hands after a few minutes without having to do anything else.

    So, yes, it can get quite expensive but as long as you can afford it somehow, why stop?


  7. Analog/digital? I’ve been using a thick/thin analogy. Digital is amazing but unless it goes through massive post editing it always seems “thin”. I know high speed film can also appear thin, but gosh, shooting ASA25 in the garden is about as “thick” as it gets. I’ll never give up film, but in truth, it is only about 5% of my output.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is such a great post. I have found myself in this position lately. To the point where I cant afford to shoot film ( I am on a terrible salary whilst I get my degree ) and as a result, I am not shooting as much. I have fallen so deeply in love with film that if I cannot afford to shoot it, I wont shoot. So now, I am as miserable as a dog with no bone. But, I am hopeful that in time I will start developing my own rolls and finding a way to afford the scans…even if it’s doing them myself.

    Keep the faith!


  9. I don’t do much C-41 myself I’m afraid as I’m more or less a B&W only shooter, but the ones I have done I just simply developed myself. You have obviously thought about that option I guess, but have you ever tried or is it because of time issues or other factors you ship off all your film? I can of course see a million reasons why a professional photographer don’t want to use his time messing around with that, but I can at least assure you that the price per film would drop quite drastically. Develop your own film, do (very) quick scans yourself for internet and blog use, and send off the negs you really need a good scan of to your prefered lab. That’s what I would suggest 🙂
    And of course, as about everyone else seems to agree about… your pictures are absolutely stunning!
    I also just thought I would try find you on Instagram… it turned out I already followed you :))


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