The photography dilemma - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 06-16-2015, 10:47 PM
Join Date: Jun 2015
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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.
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#2 Old 06-17-2015, 09:12 AM
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When I first went vegetarian, I used products that contained animals. As I learned about the animal products, I slowly cut out those things.

When I learned about the bone char used to process white sugar, I cut sugar out of my diet until I found a brand available that did not use bone char. (In the meantime, I used alternatives like rice syrup.)

I have thick, long, hard to manage hair. I had used one brand of hair care for the last 7 years because it worked so well. When I learned it contained animal products, I used what was left and never bought more.

My point is that personally, I would not use it. I'd have to continue to purchase the film. I wouldn't do that knowing what was in it. I'd use up any film I already had and be done with it.

Ultimately, you need to do what you are comfortable with.
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#3 Old 06-17-2015, 05:13 PM
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Thank you. Very valid points.
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#4 Old 06-17-2015, 07:15 PM
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This link might be helpful:

Could you try a digital camera?
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#5 Old 06-17-2015, 10:35 PM
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Thanks for the link.

I shoot mainly digital. The problem is that film photography is incredibly rewarding - while being technically a non-vegetarian pursuit. I know that I'm indirectly using animal products just by virtue of living on this planet, so I can't claim purity, but as a vegetarian and animal lover I feel that I should use as few animal products as possible. This is where the issue lies.
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#6 Old 06-18-2015, 01:44 AM
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No worries...

Just thought I would say that cutting out eggs/ dairy from your diet would do a lot more for animals than cutting back on using photographic film...
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#7 Old 06-18-2015, 03:20 AM
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I would think nowadays it would be very expensive and inconvenient to buy and have film developed since there has been such a massive move towards digital cameras. My husband used to prefer film too but gave it up due to the expense and that it is getting harder to find anywhere that will develop it.

I personally wouldn't buy it or use it. I just wouldn't feel comfortable given I had a choice.
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#8 Old 06-18-2015, 08:50 AM
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You can always print digital negatives onto tranparency film with a computer. This is what I did when I took an alternative process photography course. Look into alternative process, it was fun as hell!!

"you know, nowhere in the bible does it say that jesus was not a raptor"

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#9 Old 07-16-2015, 08:51 AM
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It depends on the type of photography you are doing, and what you want done with your photographs.
Nature photography is more likely to look better on film than people photography.
If you want your photographs to last longer than current technology, use film. If not, use digital.

I love photography and use film. There's just something about film that I love, but hate that it uses gelatin.
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#10 Old 03-13-2016, 05:08 AM
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I love film photography and now you've got me seriously concerned of turning to digital...
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