I tend to think of money as being representative of units of my life expended. This isn’t a new or unique view of it, in fact it served as the basis for the philosophy behind the book “Your Money or Your Life” by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez – a personal favourite of mine. Whenever I spend money, I think about how much of my life I am giving away, and how much value the purchase will add to my life.
When it comes to film, I often weigh how much time I spend working for the money to pay for it versus how much time I spend working on digital images, trying to coax a film-like look out of the RAW files. Of course, there are many factors that influence my decision to use film, some of which defy quantification, but right now it’s the money that’s on my mind.
The biggest argument I hear concerning film versus digital in the context of money is the never ending cost of gear upgrades. I think this depends largely on the format and quantity one shoots. For example, the X100F isn’t that tempting of an upgrade over the X100T (which I bought about two years ago), and yet I have spent the cost of the X100F in film and lab fees in the last six months. In other words, assuming I were to purchase an upgrade every two years, digital would cost me $1000/year and and film is costing me $4000/year.
Now, I make good money with my day job, and I don’t smoke or play golf or go to bars (often), so I can afford film as my “vice.” Affordability is not the concern here. What has me rethinking my decision to shoot film is if the benefits add enough value to my life to warrant how much of my life I gave away to achieve it.
I don’t want to work. I like my job well enough, but I don’t love my job, and it have me away from home a lot. I spend more nights in hotel rooms than I do at home. I cannot see myself doing this until I retire, I don’t want to be in my fifties and living in a hotel. Ideally, I would like a local, part-time job. How this relates to film is the less of my income I spend, the less I need to make. This could let me change jobs, and allow me to be less dependant on my current employer.
As a fan of Thoreau and his philosophy (as presented in Walden), I try to think about how to do things simply and frugally. I have been cultivating simple tastes. There once was a time when I was about trendy fashion labels, expensive home decor that changed seasonally, and buying expensive gifts for friends – not out of generosity but out of conceit and poor self-esteem.
In retrospect, poor self-esteem has contributed to terrible spending habits, and sometimes I wonder how much of the aesthetic appeal that exists in film is based on poor self-esteem. I wonder if I shot film as a way to help compensate for insecurities I have regarding the images I make.
All images made with X100T, processed in Lightroom with VSCO presets (further modified by myself to suit my taste).