The photography dilemma
Hello, first post here. I've been a vegetarian for around 20 years, maybe slightly more.
No doubt this one has come up over and over, but...I'm a keen amateur photographer (yeah, I know, isn't everyone?) and I've been at it seriously for around 8 years. I shot digital from the beginning. Then in the space of a couple of years, two people gave me film cameras. One was a family member, and it was bequeathed to me on his passing. The other was courtesy of a friend of my wife's family.
I have to admit to having shot a few rolls with them both before coming to the conclusion that what I was doing was ethically ambiguous. One one hand I felt that it would be ungrateful not to use them (as they are both in working order) seeing as how they were given to me. One of the cameras happens to be a very, very nice machine too, and they are both a pleasure to use.
The big "but" is of course the use of gelatine in photographic film. My vegetarian side chides me for it; I don't eat the stuff, and do everything I can to avoid it in any other product unless absolutely and utterly necessary, so using it for what it basically a selfish pleasure strikes me as wrong.
The counter is that nobody butchers animals to create photographic film and that the gelatine is a by-product. On top of that, the amount of the stuff in film is minutely small - but it's absolutely necessary. There is no substitute for it (the major photography companies spent a lot of time and money trying to find an alternative, and they flat-out failed).
The other problem is that shooting film is incredibly satisfying. I have to admit it; even as I shot film, knowing of the gelatine in it, it was a lot of fun. It's only recently that I've started to second guess myself.
So that's the question in a nutshell. Am I right to deny myself something which gives me a lot of pleasure because it uses a small amount of an animal byproduct (the absolutist approach) or can I rationalize it by factoring in the debt of gratitude to the people who gave me the cameras and the fact that while film does contain an animal product, it is a tiny amount and is a byproduct of the meat industry (which I have not supported in many years, nor plan to in the future)?
I would love to hear some thoughts and I thank in advance anyone who answers.