Why You Should Ignore Your Photographs (or, Why You Should Shoot Film)

"Laughter" - St Paul, MN


I recently had a few rolls processed that had ben exposed over a year ago, and have been awaiting processing ever since.  I finally did so, and scanned them.  As a result, I thought I would share some of the thoughts on delaying your interactions with your images.  Let me explain what I mean.

In the age of digital, it is tempting to think that having to wait longer than it takes to pop your SD card into your card reader and transfer your photographs to your computer is too long.  However, there are merits to waiting before having your film processed, and it is something that I have been trying more with my digital photography as well.  What I mean is this: I used to go out shooting, come home and transfer the contents of my memory card straight to my computer.  Then I would find a few that I like, edit them, and post them somewhere for others to see.  I suspect that is largely what most people’s digital work flow looks like.  Too often, photographers mistake the emotion they feel while taking a picture with what makes a good image.  By waiting, you may forget those feelings and hone in on the images themselves, allowing you to objectively judge your images.

Here is where we get to film.  Film allows you to shoot (without chimping) and then to move on to the next image.  When the roll is finished, don’t process it right away.  Let it sit for a month, or two.  Or a year.  When you come back to the images that you made on that roll, you can look at the images and judge them on their merit as images in their own right.  It may sound counter-intuitive, but it works.  But most of us don’t shoot film, you say?  Fine.  I have been doing the same thing with my Fuji X100 lately; I take photos and then let it sit for a while, only emptying my memory card of images 1-2 times per month.  I get to look at my images more objectively, and spend less time in front of my computer and more time shooting!

The images for this post vary in age, and were made from 2008-2011.  Some were processed and scanned years ago, and others only recently.  All are shot with film, either 120 or 135.

As always, I’d love your feedback!  Get in touch and let me know what you think, and feel free to direct others to the site if you think they would like my work.




  1. […] So, here are more Hipstamatic iPhone shots for today’s post…I hope they don’t get too tedious, but the majority of what I have been shooting lately has been film, and as I have mentioned many times before, film takes longer to get up on the blog.  Also, I prefer to wait to look over my photographs; I sent out almost 20 rolls of film last week for processing, and some of those rolls are 1-2 months old, if not older.  I have forgotten many of the photographs that are on those rolls, which is good.  This allows me to forget about what I wanted those shots to be, or the emotions I had when taking them, and to analyze and evaluate them as photographs–both individually and as part of ongoing projects.  I have posted on this idea previously. […]


  2. […] Be that as it may, I have thoroughly enjoyed using the M6. It has a few advantages over my M3–principally the light meter–and it handled well in Portugal. Perhaps I will do a write-up, a la my X100 “review” at some point, but that remains to be seen. If you are interested in either of these cameras, the M-mount system more broadly, or even just shooting film, feel free to drop me a line with any questions or comments you might have. You can also read my piece on shooting film here. […]


  3. Thanks for posting this. I changed over to digital a few years ago and found that I too let my pics sit for awhile. then I find that I don’t have 100 great shots, I have 2 good ones. I miss film, I understood film. Thanks for posting great pics. Always a joy to see your blog.


  4. I agree — I usually don’t look at my photos right away, b/c either I’ll love them all or hate them all. I’m much more objective after a few days or weeks. As for film, I usually take so long to develop it that it amounts to the same thing — by the time I see it, it’s almost always a surprise. The taxi shot is esp cool


  5. Sometimes I will go back to my old digital images for this reason – after months or years, I’m able to look at these images more objectively.

    I in particular like the taxicab one. That splash of yellow surrounding the dark glass/interior/reflection, and then you see the face. It’s interesting.


  6. I love them all, but happen to be particularly fond of the first picture in the “Vacation” album…always thinkin’ that boy!


  7. Love the black and white film shot of the beach. It’s neat the way the exposure and the monochrome change the appearance of the beach. Rather than looking like e hot Florida scene that it is, it looks like a cold, northern beach.


  8. You hit that one right on the head Trevor, well said, and inarguably true. I just went back and reviewed some of my photos from a month or two back, it’s amazing how differently I see them now.

    PS – anybody ever say you look like ben stiller lol? i’m sure it’s just the angle of that self-portrait, but you could definitely fool some people … i mean that as a compliment by the way


  9. Trevor, I’m so glad you posted this. The photos you posted are all fantastic.

    I agree that rolls of film (or memory cards of photos) should be left for a while to let the dust settle. When one revisits the images a week, month or year later, they definitely stand on their own much better in the photographer’s mind. I’ve got a couple of rolls I took back in 1996 that recently turned up in a moving box I never unpacked. I’m looking forward to getting these rolls processed so I can revisit the time the photos were taken. Honestly, after this long I have no clue what’s on them. Should be interesting!

    Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos and your insight.


  10. Hey Trevor, It’s always nice to check in and see your work and some familiar faces.

    I agree completely with letting the “rolls” of films sit for a little bit. While I only upload on facebook, and very occasionally at that, I find that the message or motif is much easier for the viewer to grasp when there are only 10 photos compared to 50.


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