As often happens when I'm feeling at a creative loss, this past weekend I spent some time digging through my archives. I like to revisit themes and remember where I was, and it can be especially rewarding to go through the ones that didn't make the cut the first time around. As usual I found some that I like more now, but most of them were ignored all those years ago for very good reasons.

What makes this interesting is that I was specifically looking through photos recorded on film.

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Despite being an overwhelmingly digital photographer, many of my favourite photos have been shot on film. This makes it seem like something that I should be spending much more time and effort on.

In particular, photos taken with my Zeiss Ikon M-mount rangefinder stand out among my very best from all of my visits to New York, even though I only took it on two of my six visits to date. In fact, I've done two other trips there with a film camera – Hasselblad 500cm on one, and an Olympus XA on another, because I enjoy contrasts – but I also used a digital camera for all but one of them. It's that one trip with only that marvellous Ikon that produced my best results.

So it's with a certain relief, a release from creative guilt, that I can confirm that I take plenty of really bad photos with film. Not just slight misses, or ideas that didn't quite work, but complete what-was-I-thinking moments litter the collections. What's more, since it was film, every single one of those frames had a tangible financial and logistical cost to them. 

Like I said, it's something of a relief.

I still want to use more film. There's B&W loaded in my rangefinder, colour in my F5, and my medium format cameras will also see a few rolls as the weather improves. But my archived reality check takes away the pressure to 'make every shot count' and reminds me that I can still explore, experiment, and play.

That's the true source of many of my favourite photos.

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