A Lesson in Discipline


We can resist anything except temptation. Shooting digital brings temptation—the ability to see immediately whether we nailed the shot and the ability to do it over (and over and over) again.

For this camera v. iPhone challenge, we threw in another element—film. The challenge was to take 24 shots on film, 24 on digital and 24 on iPhone. To level the playing field between digital and film, there was no looking after shooting. So after a day shooting, our six best shots are below. Was it tough? Yes, especially the “no looking” rule and being denied a “do over”.

What did we learn?

Mr. DW:

Not that film, or digital is best. But, while shooting digital gives you great freedom, it can also make you lazy (although that is a loaded word). From here on, I will try harder to make the digital shots that I take the best on the first or second shot, rather than shooting until the “masterpiece” emerges. Shooting on film builds shot discipline—try it. And, for some obscure reason, it also feels more satisfying.

Mrs. DW:

instamatic_webAre you sitting comfortably? This challenge took me back to when I was given my first camera, a Kodak Instamatic. It came with a strict parental warning that film and developing were expensive and not to waste pictures. When I moved on to a Minolta and paid for my own film and developing, I was my harshest financial auditor. Eventually, no picture was good enough and I ended up frozen; paralyzed by whether a picture “was worth it” or not with one eye on my student budget and the other eye focused on how many exposures were left.

Digital cameras arrived and all was forgiven—photos were”free”! As many as you want! Add having a camera phone at hand at all times, and well, photo explosion. On the up side, I could heed Cartier-Bresson’s advice, “Your first 10,000 photographs are the worst.” Sadly my iPhone’s Camera Roll looks like I’m rushing to get through those 10,000.

On the down side, I’m guilty of violating CB’s sage advice to avoid “…snapping away, shooting quickly and without thought, overloading ourselves with unnecessary images that clutter our memory and diminish the clarity of the whole.”Which is exactly where I am: drowning in my digital morass.

This challenge of taking only 24 shots, with strictly NO LOOKING afterward, brought me back to considering every snap. And yes, it brought me back to that frozen state of wondering if each picture was “good enough” to take. It was hard and I’m not happy with the results, only the lesson: Consideration. Discipline.

So here are the results. First, film, Olympus OM1.

Film_coffeeshop Film_cigarsmoker

Digital Leica M9:

L_Sundaybench L_Sundaystroll

Finally, iPhone:

iPhone_westside iPhone_westsidebench