Film snobs. If you know any photographers, (and I know a few) you probably know some film snobs. They're kinda like vinyl snobs, those guys who rail against CDs and iPods, and insist the only proper way to listen to Dark Side Of The Moon is on vinyl, played on some crazy Bang & Olufsen turntable running through a tube amp, blah, blah blah.
When I was a teenager, I visited the original Motown records studios, in a little house in Detroit. In the control room, I saw a tiny, crappy speaker mounted next to the mixing console, the kind of speaker that would be attached to an AM radio in any car from the 60's. Berry Gordy mixed all that classic soul through that shitty little speaker, because he knew that was how all his music would be heard for the first time.
Ever since then, I haven't have much use for vinyl snobs.
Since I started getting back into photography a few years ago, I had the same chip on my shoulder about film snobs. When I was a young'un, my father was a photographer, and he tried his best to teach me the discipline of photography. I had a nice Pentax 35mm camera, but due to my general lack of patience, I pretty much sucked. Between that, and the constant expense of film, I gave it up, pretty much the same way I gave up learning to play the guitar after I failed to master Louie Louie.
Fast forward twenty years or so. After feeling like I was getting what I wanted from digital photography, I decided to give film another go. My pal Chris Haston offered to trade a beautiful Leica M6 camera for some artwork. Oh baby.
What a a lovely camera to shoot with. I'm a Leica fan anyway, but the M6 is just such a beautiful little hunk of machinery... I love the way it feels, the noise the shutter makes, the weight of the camera.
At first I was just having fun shooting with the M6, and being forced to think through everything, but I wasn't really in "love" with it until I got the first batch of film back. There is a certain quality to the light that, I must admit, you just cannot get with digital.
Digital cameras are incredibly sophisticated pieces of technology that do amazing things, but the Leica M6 is such a beautiful piece of mechanical engineering, like an old Porsche roadster or a vintage Rolex Submariner wristwatch, that it becomes the pinnacle of its type, the perfect object that all others aspire to be.
Using the Leica is a unique pleasure all its own, independent of the results... but oh, what results! (when used properly of course. Still working on that!) It really is something magical.