I started with a DSLR in about 2007. I bought it to take family photos, and through a strange chain of happy accidents I ended up also shooting models and getting some notice in this small town.
A friend, a co-worker really, asked me to set aside a Saturday so he could show me a few things regarding photography. We met for beers, and he saw a few of my early works who's better qualities were more a factor of luck and statistics (if you take 1,000 photos, one or two will look pretty good). He reached into his bag and pulled out this antique camera that I just wanted to look at and admire for awhile. It was a Mamiya C330.
We spent a couple of hours going through the operation of the camera, how to use a light meter, the sunny 16 rule, and basics of coming up with a good exposure. He let me borrow that camera for a few months, gave me a bag of random ancient expired film from his freezer, and then said one thing that changed my life forever: "Some of this work you're doing now, it reminds me of Robert Mapplethorpe".
That's it. It was over for me as soon as I looked up Mapplethorpe. I could never again go back to life as I once knew it.
Learning about Mapplethorpe led me to Arbus, Avedon, Newton, Weegee, et al. I started studying their works, trying to understand their techniques, and applying what I'd learned to my own aesthetic. I started reading Ansel Adams to understand the confluence of art & science. Heck, I even took some drawing classes (something I still can't do) for no other reason than to try to gain a more concrete understanding of what I see in the mind's eye so that I might capture it better on film.
Here we are now in 2013, and I spent all day Saturday with the fellow who got me started with the Mamiya (I own three of those Mamiyas now, and they remain my favorite camera). This time I was toting around a Crown Graphic, handheld, and fired off all of three photos for an all day walkabout.
I'm not going to say the new breed of photographers is wrong, but in the strictest sense they are mostly ignorant. I shoot film, but I also shoot more modern hardware, and my experience with film and learning about the old masters has helped me with both forms.