Local photographers use new and old tools to develop something special

Bay County

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — To do the job all you needed was a camera, a roll of film, and a bit of luck.

The job also used to come with anxiety, according to local photographer Tim Allen.

“Basically, you would photograph everything and you never knew what you had for sure until you got that film back,” Allen said. “So if we did a wedding you kind of sweated for a few days.”

Unlike digital photography, which allows a shooter to take hundreds of images in seconds, film requires caution and hope.

“I don’t miss the stress of seeing if you have your image right,” Allen said.

But it also offered something that is irreplaceable, to be surprised by joy.

“The thing that makes darkroom so neat, and I have had this happen with almost every student I have ever had, when put that first print that you have exposed in the larger and in the developer and you are sitting there and you are agitating and suddenly the print comes up and its like a, ‘Ohhh’ moment,” said photographer and teacher Chris Calohan. “There’s nothing like it. And once you get it once you see that happen you are hooked for life.”

The advantages of digital are unmistakable.

“It’s allowed us to take away a lot of the distractions that we used to have with film because we couldn’t adjust a lot of things,” Allen said.

Calohan said he fought digital photography for years, but now a digital camera is his primary tool.

“I can shoot 100 frames in 10 seconds and I can discard 99 of them and have the one I want,” Calohan said.

Still, film offers budding photographers a chance to learn composition and patience.

“Film photographers make better digital photographers than people who just start off with digital,” Calohan said. “It teaches you the discipline of framing, composing, and steadying up all your exposures ahead of time so you know exactly what you are shooting.”

With a lack of local places to develop film, Calohan is teaming up with The Lightroom, a local photography studio, to build a dark room and offer classes for photographers in the area.

“When cameras came along everybody thought that painters would disappear. ‘Why would you want to paint when you can just shoot a picture?’ Which didn’t happen,” Calohan said. “People are still painting. Film has never really gone away but it is not as strong as it used to be.”

The classes promise to be a place where everyone can develop something new.

“Photography is about two things: it’s about time and it’s about light,” Calohan said.

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