Walking into Boots with a roll of film to get printed is like a social experiment – will they look at me with a puzzled expression that suggests they’ve never seen film before? Will they willingly accept the disposable camera I lovingly took photos on? Or will they laugh and wonder why I’m not just taking photos on my phone, seeing as film is clearly outdated? It is no surprise to you all that I am a fan of the film photo, whether that be taking photos on my film camera (which I’ve found to be cheaper than a disposable camera) or scanning in the disposable camera photos that my mum has taken – film is far from being an outdated medium, but why has it had a resurgence?
As I was reading for history coursework I came across an essay in one of the books which was titled ‘consumer capitalism and the end of the Cold War’ (published in ‘The Cambridge History of the Cold War, Volume III’). It explored how backward China and the Soviet Union were in light of their consumerism and also how behind they were in their technological advances compared to America. You could argue that it was one of the factors that Gorbachev tried to change in his radical reforms of glasnost and perestroika. In other articles again, something that is highlighted is how backward the Soviet Union were in technological terms, and this did hinder them in competition. So again I posed the question as to why there has been a resurgence of film when, speaking historically with regards to the Cold War, advancements in technology are what we should perhaps be striving for.
Is the answer a matter of opinion or is there an objective reason to why film photography is becoming more popular? I wanted to read up what other people had to say on the matter before writing this post but as a blogger and seeing other bloggers using film there is something untouched, an already edited feeling to the photo that can capture a moment in the way that other photos can’t. A timelessness that transcends onto the photo. Katie uploaded a post with photos from Marrakech that spoke of a balmy summertime and captured the essence of a photo in a way that an phone just can’t; not even the film photo app HUGI can truly replicate the wonders of 35mm film. To me, film photos represent a new age of those who live in the moment yet retain a want of the memory to last forever.
Others, perhaps see the wonder of film photography on a more practical, less philosophical level. The article I read in TIME highlighted how many digital photographers use film to differentiate their art and their work by shooting in this older medium. It’s a competitive edge to their marketing as a photographer and I have seen more photographers on Instagram use film for their photos – has it lost its competitive edge? It’s like the polaroid camera, is it just a trend that people have got on the back of? I say no, we take photos on every device we have and don’t question it so why should we be questioning if taking photos with film is a trend that will return to the ‘ash – heap of history’ (WOAH do you like my Ronald Reagan Cold War reference there? Because I definitely don’t have Cold War quotes left, right and centre).
The other article I read was posing the same question that I am today, CNET urging us to: ‘Take Up Film Photography In The Digital Age‘. Wayne Cunningham, the writer of the article notes that: ‘pictures on film show greater depth, and look more natural than those captured on a digital camera’s image sensor.’ He also makes it clear that yes, the downside to film to photographs is that it isn’t free so that is a factor as to why there isn’t a complete resurgence in the use of film photography, but one could counter that and further question why has there been a resurgence at all? Again, I go back to the surprise at seeing moments you can treasure – it’s no wonder that every other post on here seems to have an element of film.
There’s something sustainable about film photography compared to taking photos on a phone in the sense that you have the photo in your hand, you have to develop it and cherish it and although it may end up scanned into your phone to upload onto a blog post *ahem* they’re there for you to keep and treasure and frame or show your children in years to come. When I was younger my mum used to avidly take photos on a film camera until the fateful day that she got sand in it and had to succumb to the technological innovation that was a digital camera. The photos were left lying in wait till the day they were printed, that is if they were printed and the selection process began. Just like a photo uploaded to Instagram, 5 photos taken were scrutinised to get the one that would be printed. That’s why, for our DoFe aim, we decided to take film photos.
I’d like to have a disposable camera on every table at my wedding to capture a memory that, like I said, will last and keep and yet have an air of mysteriousness – how will it turn out? I would love to know do why you take photos on film? If you haven’t tried film photography before, what’s stopping you but also why do you think that there is such a love for film photography in an age that is dominated so much by digital photographs?
lots of love, eleanor xx