Analog people in a digital world – why do some still shoot the old ways?

Jun 26, 2020

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Analog people in a digital world – why do some still shoot the old ways?

Jun 26, 2020

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Although analogue photography, particularly film, seemed to die off in the early 2000s as the world started to switch to digital, it’s seen something of a resurgence. For some people, it didn’t stop, though, and the analogue process has remained a constant in their lives an in their work.

This video from Exploredinary, made in 2017 for the Dallas Observer, but only recently published to YouTube, tells the tale of four artists who still use those old techniques including Tintypes, Cyanotypes and custom Polaroid cameras.

While there are times when digital offers undisputed advantages over film and other analogue techniques, sometimes the old ways let you realise your vision in the most suitable way. And for those featured in the video, it certainly seems to be their preferred way. It’s an interesting insight into their logic and thought process behind why they work the way they do.

I quit shooting any kind of analogue in 2002 when I got my first pair of Nikon D100 DSLRs. A decade later, I started shooting film again and I’m glad I did. It’s a very different kind of photography and definitely helps me create what I see in my head sometimes with a lot less work and effort than trying to manipulate a digital file.

How about you? Have you stuck with analogue through the digital era? Did you leave and come back? Or have you jumped into it after beginning with digital?

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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6 responses to “Analog people in a digital world – why do some still shoot the old ways?”

  1. Jon MacKinnon Avatar
    Jon MacKinnon

    There are a bunch of photographers on YouTube who shoot a lot of analogue, they’re also all pretty young which is great to see. Willem Verbeeck, Matt Day, Joe Greer, Corey Wolfenbarger, grainydays, all worth checking out.

  2. Javier Cardona Avatar
    Javier Cardona

    Never thought of using film, I happened to find a nikon FG at the thrift store for $35, It included a 50mm and that was the whole reason I bought it. Then I decided to see If it worked and it did work, I got 2 rolls of fujifiml acros black and white. I dont know what it is but I LOVE how the result looks. The thought process of taking a picture is way different also. Everyone should try it.

  3. Zygmunt Zarzecki Avatar
    Zygmunt Zarzecki

    Analog? Traditional!

  4. Daniel Kompass Avatar
    Daniel Kompass

    I shoot as much film as I do digital, half my fridge is film, lol. Just the way someone who’s been around the camera for 40 years does. But to make a living these days you have to shoot digital. So I kept all my Canon film gear, lenses, and bought a Sony and an adapter so I can use my 40 year old Canon Glass on my new Sony, Nice. Canon EOS 3 for Film and Sony A73 for dig, quite often will take the same shot with both to compare….film will never die.

  5. John Beatty Avatar
    John Beatty

    I shot film in various formats from 1977 to 2005. That is when I sold it all and went total digital. I think learning the art via film has helped me do the per-visual for the digital takes. Still have times I want to get back into it. Have to say, “Nothing like the smell of developer in the morning”.

  6. Terry Gardner Avatar
    Terry Gardner

    Just went and bought Fixer and Stop bath a few days ago. Still have a pouch of D76 and a can of Dektol. I have some old Tri-X that was exposed years ago. Just an experiment to see if any images still exits on it. Then I still have a half full winder with that same Tri-X. Wind some spools and start shooting again for another experiment. I shot film starting in the sixties until I bought a D-70. Had a darkroom and still have all the equipment.