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FOR THE LOVE OF IT ALL - by Mike Basher

I’ve always had a love affair with film photography; specifically black and white. I don’t know if it stems from the excitement of watching my first print emerge under the glow of a safelight, or using texture and shape to make a barren scene look beautiful. Maybe it’s both.


Film photo taken by Mike Basher at the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes


They say love makes you a better person. I think the same goes for the relationship between film and photographers.


Film study of an oak tree by Mike Basher


There’s a certain level of trust and understanding that goes on between a photographer and the film loaded in their camera. Compared to image-making in this digital age, there really is a lot of uncertainty in what you think you're capturing, vs. what you're actuallycapturing. As film photographers, we must keep our composure, and wait for the moment of truth; development and the loupe.


Film picture taken by Mike Basher of the ocean tide


We live by a different set of rules and standards in film mode, vs. digital mode. We are in tune with our subject. We count frames. We're limited to 36 chances per roll. The last thing we want to do is load another roll, because we want to get it on THIS roll... Those of us that are large format photographers try to lay it all out there on a sheet. A sheet.


Film photo taken by Mike Basher of a tree at Hunting Island


I read an interesting blog the other day, where a photo enthusiast gets a hold of the latest, greatest digital medium format camera, which costs as much as a house. This photographer has a revelation while using this slow camera that eats up memory cards. “Maybe I should focus on what I'm doing.” I feel this lesson would've been realized ten fold had they just loaded a $5 roll of film.


Film photo taken by Mike Basher at the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge


We don’t gab on about settings and pixels and bytes, but will proudly tout about how few shots it took us to get what we had set out to do. “Quality over quantity” is our motto. I was out the other day, hauling my gear around via boat, then on land...for six hours, and didn't make one. single. exposure. I tried. Believe me, I tried. But, I couldn't make anything work out that I was happy with. BUT, the next time I picked up my camera, the failure had fed me. I was hungry.


Film photo taken by Mike Basher at the Badlands National Park


We abide by an unwritten set of rules, which are given to us by the medium we work in. We don’t photomerge. We don’t do HDR. We don’t focus stack. We get it as close to perfect in-camera. We realize that nothing is perfect, but that won't stop us on our quest. We learn from our mistakes, and become better photographers from them–because those missed opportunities and moments haunt us.


Film photo taken by Mike Basher at the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes


I love film.



Mike Basher is a fine art and commercial photographer based in North Carolina's Outer Banks.With a commercial career that spans two decades, his work has taken him around the world, creating campaigns for brands like Under Armour, The North Face, and Reebok. After a five year hiatus from shooting film, in 2009, he turned back to working with large format systems to create his personal fine art work.

Today, Mike enjoys using his fine art photography as an excuse to explore the world around him, the challenges of continuously honing his skills as a photographer, and pushing the limits of photography that are only possible with the use of black and white film.

Mike's work can be viewed at

Instagram: @mikebasher

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