I grew up in the 80ies. That time, people would listen to crappy music photographers would only shoot film, but I never seized the opportunity to learn how to use a camera back then. It does not mean I never had a chance to. Several people I knew where super passionate about photography and I'd hang out with them at some photo shoots. And then there was a time when I used to live with a photographer. She would even run some of her shoots by me and more than once could I contribute some ideas. It just happened that I wasn't really interested myself in taking pictures at that time.
So this former roommate used to throw all kinds of parties at our place inviting a dozen photography students at a time. That was when I met my dear friend Caro, a terrific portrait photographer who is an incredible source of wisdom and opinions. So a year ago I asked her "You're shooting a film Mamiya. How come?". And she looked at me and said "People react to you differently when you are using a camera that is not a digital small format camera. They get more excited about having their picture taken, but most importantly (since shots are limited and every frame costs you) you are much more conscious about what you are taking a picture of"
With SLR cameras being cheaper than ever, everyone is a photographer these days. Many people claim to be professional photographers since they are having a few pictures on iStockphoto and making a dollar or two. There is nothing wrong with that. Trying to summarize what this majority of newborn photographers do, is in my eyes a craft. "What lens do I need? What is this piece of equipment? Where is the latest and best photoshop action/filter/plugin?" You name it! There is a great desire to learn how to take a great photograph - on a very technical level. And with that billions and trillions of photos are taken, filling up our machines "dogs, cats, flowers, keyboards, friends, trees,..."
In all this brouhaha I came to realize what I love about photography. Sure, I love to geek out about photography and I am fascinated by its technical aspect. But I don't care how to get the perfect HDR technique. I don't care about foolproof lighting setup books (I know because I read a couple and they all sucked). What I most profoundly care about is to create a marvelous image. An image that, when people are looking at it can't help but keep staring at it. I want my photographs to trigger thoughts, emotions, or really anything (like peeing in pants).
So what does this have to do with shooting film now? If i only care about the result, wouldn't it be more pragmatic if I exclusively shot digital? Rational answer: yes.
Medium format users generally argue that the subjective quality of the film is higher (i am not talking about mindless "megapixel versus megapixel" charts) and that film has a higher dynamic range (yes it allows for more errors if you're shooting negative film but i am shooting slides for several reasons so screw that!). No, to me there is something meditative about slowing down and using a cumbersome large and heavy film camera. The polaroids I have to take for testing lights make perfect souvenirs. Little things, like pushing the shutter makes this pleasant sound: it is the drum I play in a song that the people present can hear in their heads while the shoot develops its own flow. I can be composer and conductor at the same time. And sometimes when I hear the klack and know that was a good frame, I feel illuminated.