This is not a post about film photography being better than digital photography. Not really.
This is not a post about preserving film as a medium. I’m tired of reading those posts.
What’s different about this post is that it can be applied to any skill in life, not just photography. This is a post about the choices we make as an artist attempting to master a medium, whatever medium that might be. It's a post about starting starting at ground zero and building your skills with an innate set of talents; for me and my love of photography, that was starting with a long forgotten medium: film photography.
Digital photography is easier and cheaper than film photography; it’s a fact. Anyone can pick up a digital camera and become a photographer nowadays, for better or worse. It’s certainly made photography more popular, but I’m not sure it’s produced a caliber of better photographers. Like every industry, what separates the good from the bad is how much time and effort one puts into the discipline.
For me, mastering the medium of photography meant going back to the basics and learning film photography. It wasn’t easy. I’ve messed up countless photos and even ruined rolls of film; however, I can assure you I learned from my mistakes. In many cases, my imperfect images lead me down creative paths I would have never considered or taken with a digital camera. I wish someone would have handed me film camera years ago, but, of course, I suppose it’s all part of the journey.
I would encourage anyone attempting to master a skill to start with the basics; even if that means setting aside that expensive, state-of-the-art piece of equipment. Go against the grain; challenge yourself; get your hands dirty. As cliche as it sounds, hard work and determination still prevails.
A good place to start if you're interested in the basics of photography is to buy a simple 35mm camera and look at the various brands of film still available to photographers today. I can assure you some of the best professionals still swear by film and it shows in their work.