Of late I have been thinking about the cost of my making Photographs. It is true, film is expensive. But from a certain perspective you realise this is not a bad thing, nor is it a good thing, it is simply a characteristic of film and it is up to each photographer to define that characteristic.
So each time I press my shutter button it adds to the cost. But that cost means something to me. It means that I have to give each image more value to balance that cost, to make that cost worth it. You could easily replace the word cost with personal investment. But because my photos have cost, they have value to me. Because they have value I labour over them more, I am more careful, I am more thoughtful, I love them more. But monetary cost is not the only cost, pinhole taught me this. There is cost in time as well. If I am working with my pinholes each image might cost me several minutes of my life, maybe even hours. I could have roamed a lot in that time, found many other snap shots, but instead I invested all that time in each and every image. And as I only photograph what I think is going to be personal to me, rather than what others will think is a good photo I take greater care in selection. Imagine you lived in a world where social media didn’t exist, and you only made photos that you would see. You would start thinking about the value of each image, and you start applying a greater value to each image. What I have found tends to happen is the results improve, or your enjoyment of the process improves, or both. To visit digital for a moment (and this is not a dig at digital) if each shot is theoretically free and you can make hundreds of images in one go, how much value do you tend to attach to each of those images? Not much, right? 9 out of 10 of them will get deleted or filed away to obscurity on your hard drive, maybe more than that. We shoot freely and hence the tendency is perhaps to shoot without value. Yes, film costs. It costs money. It costs time. It costs sweat and sometimes blood. I welcome those costs, I don’t see them as a negative, I see them as a reason to value what I am creating, to strive harder for a more meaningful process or result, to inspire greater patience and vision and practice on my part. I don’t want my film photos to be free because I would be afraid I would not value them as much then.