Posted by: mcshanphoto | 10/02/2011

It’s not the camera, it’s the journey.

I started this blog as a forum for and about film photography – and will continue to do so – but this week I have been thinking quite a bit about purchasing a digital SLR.  The fact is, if you want to do commercial work you have to have a digital SLR…though if you ask any commercial photographer they will tell you they use film for any/all of their artistic work.  As I was mulling over again the idea of going down the digital path I found this article entitled: Advantages of a Holga Toy Camera over Modern Digital Cameras.

Being the owner of a Holga I was definitely curious to read and what struck me was this:  In the age of instant gratification where a bad photo is instantly deleted from the memory card, the main draw of a Holga is the anticipation in not knowing what you’ll get. The way the pictures turn out would always be a package of surprises.

That could be said of any film camera.  What we’ve lost in this shift to digital is ‘the journey.’  Some of my best work was made when I traveled to someplace and did nothing but photography  – I had the luxury of time to look and think before I snapped a photo.  Even now I’ll explore areas in Los Angeles at various times of day before I commit to capturing the moment.  Maybe it’s because I don’t want to waste film or maybe it’s also because the journey should mean just as much as the end result.  I’ve shot many rolls of film before and only gotten a few photos I loved – was that a waste of time or money?  No.  It was still a learning experience.  When I see people using their digital cameras and looking at the back of their camera every time they’ve shot a photo I feel like they are missing something.  While I contemplate whether that will be me one day I share a photo from a place I’ve spent a lot of time exploring and photographing (and have mentioned in a previous post):  Burrishoole Friary.

Burrishoole Gate

I hope to get back there again later this year – with both my film and digital cameras!



  1. I love the pseudo-randomness of shooting with Holgas. I like the analog imperfections and using them to my advantage if I can. In some ways I like being surprised by the outcome. With digital, I don’t stop till its perfect. With the Holgas I take what I get. The imperfections in the images let me fill in the blanks, and thus the photos are better story telling images in some ways.

    • Love your comment and totally agree. The beauty of Holga is I’m never quite sure how things will turn out and sometimes the imperfections are startlingly beautiful. It’s always an adventure!

  2. Thanks for the links to Holga. I finally know something about these cameras. I only knew what you ha told me but I wanted to know more. I am looking forward to seeing your Holga photos.

    • Take a look at my photos from Puerto Vallarta…most of those are Holga photos. 🙂

  3. I have a dSLR (Canon 5dMII) but every single day I miss the pre-digital days. If it was cost-effective for me to still shoot on film full time, I would. Perhaps this is why I am so addicted to all my iPhone apps that simulate toy camera/film photography!

    • I so hear you…in my mind nothing can replace the results you get from film. At the same time though it’s reassuring to me that there’s this increasing interest in plastic/toy cameras. And yes iPhone apps are definitely spurring that interest in discovering what ‘real’ film photos look like. Thanks for the comment!

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