Lessons from Film


Over the years, I’ve had a fascination with film photography. I remember checking out old film cameras from my college arts library but had no idea what I was doing. After going through a few rolls of film that were utterly botched, I gave up. Since then, I honed my skills in digital photography but I felt that if I could master analog, then I’d be a better digital artist. Fast forward to the fall of 2019, I decided to try again. I watched countless youtube videos and got my first camera, a Minolta XGM, from KEH Camera. 

The process over the last two years has taught me that what I value in creativity is more than aesthetics – it’s the combination of technical skill, storytelling and community. Below are a few lessons on creativity as a whole that I’ve gleaned from learning film.

  1. Give yourself space to be
    • Once a shot is taken, I know I won’t see it for at least a few weeks. This is because I often don’t work through the whole roll of film for at least a week or two. I then mail the film to a shop in Charlottesville, VA (Hey, procamera!). From there, it’s about a week turnaround before I receive an email of the scans. During that time of waiting, I just have to be patient. It goes against everything my millennial mind has been taught (I’m looking at you, Instagram).
    • Generally, I know I feel most creative in the mornings. Having a set time to just be is key for me to get those creative juices flowing. This looks like sipping my morning coffee while journaling or sketching. 
  2. Community > everything 
    • Learning film photography wouldn’t have been possible without communities on Youtube and Instagram. Two of my favorites are Jessica Whitakar and Matt Day
    • One of the highlights from this year was hosting a collaborative photoshoot (read more here). What I loved about it was that each photographer could shine and lead the floor, but the collaboration and learning from each other was phenomenal. For me and my business, collaboration can look like allowing time during photoshoots to play and experiment. 
  1. Be generous with you creation timelines
    • With a background of working at an agency, I’m familiar with tight deadlines and crunched creative time. Something I learned is that, though creative problem solving can kick in under a deadline, it certainly does not thrive. Building in time to brainstorm, critique and refine ideas is crucial to deliver thoughtful and strategic creative work. 

December 13, 2021

- sarah