Film and Delayed Gratification

Delayed gratification is a person’s ability to resist an immediate ‌reward so that they can get a more valuable future reward. A reward can be defined as anything that brings comfort or pleasure. 

Delayed gratification necessitates imagining yourself in the future. Many people equate delayed gratification with self-control or willpower, but more importantly it involves a future expectation of a more valuable reward.

You often hear Gen Zer’s saying that a main reason for their interest in film photography is the delay between taking the photo and seeing the results. Somehow, that interval between the photo and its realization imparts a weigh to the photo that a quick instantaneous review on a screen lacks. It’s an unintended future reward film gives us in the digital age.


As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve just finished developing a huge backlog of film that had been accumulating since 2012. Part of my reward is getting to look back on my life when I was healthy and well. It wasn’t that long ago. The photo that leads off this post is me sitting on Valentino Rossi’s MotoGP winning 2009 Yamaha while attending a race weekend in Indianapolis in 2015. In addition to being evidence that I actually did do it, I can look back and see myself relatively young and healthy. Knowing that, 7 years later I’d be in the process of dying wouldn’t have entered my mind that day.

Life is funny that way. What I’m experiencing now has taught me to value each day because its of infinite worth. I hope that’s what you take from this, in addition to thinking I was a pretty good-looking guy back in the day (or at least that’s what my wife tells me).

Directly above is another newly discovered photo – me in a hotel room in Barcelona in 2004. Nothing special about the photo, but for some reason it resonates with me. Again, I was young and healthy and I was fortunate to be visiting someplace interesting. I’m taking the photo with a Leica M4, the best meterless M Leitz produced. For some reason I sold it. I should have kept it; one thing I’ve learned is to never sell a film Leica unless you have compelling reasons to do so. Whatever the reason I sold it, I’m certain it wasn’t compelling. Another life lesson learned.

Wouldn’t it be great if we learned our life lessons with enough time left to benefit from them?

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5 thoughts on “Film and Delayed Gratification

  1. Lee Rust

    I can’t remember where I first heard this motto… “digital is for now, and film is for later”.
    Eventually, ‘later’ does arrive, and you’re very blessed to still be around to appreciate it.

  2. Rob Campbell

    Yes, life lessons usually do come too late. Apart from selling two Hassy cameras and three lenses chasing mad dreams of improved wealth from 6×7 (didn’t materialise), I think my greatest waste was not making the photographic most from all the various places around the globe that photography took me – and paid me to visit. I wasted the opportunities thinking “stock” and pension, when I should have been thinking art, instead. So many models, so many blown chances of making some non-pinup imagery with them. Shit, how could I have had such faith in commerce and so precious little in art for art’s sake?

    À propos of nothing relevant, here’s my favourite travel guy: inspires me no end. I watched his two-island trip over my steak today; what a better talent than photography – cooking is almost as wonderful as music in what it does for the soul. It was one of my wife’s talents: she could see something complex and adapt it into something more simple, but just as delicious. She seemed capable of making, in thirty minutes, something that takes me all damned morning and seldom seems worth the blood, sweat and cursing!


  3. Bill B

    Kudos for getting the development and scanning done. I hope they’ve brought back many happy memories. Sitting on Valentino Rossi’s bike must have been a buzz.

    Sometimes, though, it’s not only delayed gratification but memory restoration. Earlier this year I discovered 3 rolls of B&W film in an old brief case, without labels, and when I developed them I had the gratification of seeing my kids as children in 1995. However, I had completely forgotten the rolls of film and I only remembered some of the events captured. I sometimes wonder what if I’d never opened that case but had given it away or just thrown it out. Today, looking in the back of a drawer my wife came across eleven rolls of colour film all neatly labelled from about 15 years ago that I had also completely forgotten. I have no idea what’s on them but I can’t wait to see the pictures. These rolls are like time capsules. I’m fairly confident that if they had been hard drives that had not been spun up for a couple of decades they may have been unreadable. Cheers.

      1. Bill B

        Fortunately no, just the usual Kodacolor Gold. I did shoot at least one roll of Kodachrome but my kids and slides weren’t a sweet spot.

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