Film is back with a vengeance. Despite the ease and practicality of digital photography, analogue remains a fond preference for a number of photographers. We’ve been asking shutterbugs from all over for their views on the current status of analogue photography, and here are the responses we’ve gathered so far.
“Let’s see… my thoughts on the status of analogue photography! Well, as long as there’s a market for film, film will be made. We’re seeing product lines from Fuji, Kodak, and other manufacturers narrowing because with digital editing software and more sophisticated film cameras a lot of the nuances among different films don’t matter, so instead of Vibrant Color and Neutral Color portra film, for instance, you just have Portra film now (and you can make it as neutral or vibrant as you like after you scan the negatives).
I personally like film because I like the physical artifact of the negative; it feels more “real” to me, but this debate about reality in photography could be argued ad nauseum with no clear winner. That said, digital makes a lot more sense for commercial projects, in terms of workflow, cost, and speed.
I think with the resurgence in analogue cameras, especially “toy” cameras, coupled with the Instagram phenomenon, there’s a lot of film photographs being made that don’t have much content other than the feel of being vintage. So maybe you have a boring picture of a fire hydrant at high noon and it’s out of focus, but it’s heavily vignetted and cross-processed and there’s dust on the negative, so this is perceived as a “wow, cool” photograph, even though the subject of the photograph is still just a boring old fire hydrant. What I’m trying to say is that just because a photo is made using film does not make it a good photo. So what’s so great about film? Film has a better highlight shoulder (you don’t get the nasty white clipping that you do with digital), and the process of shooting with film is different than with digital (there’s no image review, you can’t fire off 100 shots in twenty seconds, etc), and people respond to film cameras differently than they do to digital cameras. I notice this while street shooting. I like these aspects of film photography. Oh, and I like making HUGE prints, and film enlarges really big better than digital (again, bring on the debate. But I’ll stand by this one!). And every once in a while I get a crappy photo that’s dusty and heavily vignetted and it’s out of focus and I think it’s the coolest thing ever."
Portrait and Fine Art Photographer
“When I am shooting on the streets, I love film, and for some romantic reason it feels right. The feeling of waiting for the developed rolls is like no other in this fast-paced world. I guess there are other uses for film too. But as an industry film is becoming more and more of a niche. The lack of film services is more apparent; Israel now only has two labs that develop slide film, and most outsource C41 [color negatives] as well. The associate cost is quite bigger as compared to digital and there are little to none technological advances. So as time passes film will become a more artistic or gimmick-esque option, and in the far future I think that other than for very limited uses, it might be gone completely. I know it is a glum forecast and I am happy that Lomography is reviving film for as long as possible.”
Chief Photography Hacker
What do you think? Share with us your views on the current status of analogue photography in the comments section below.