Every person carrying a smartphone has a good quality camera in their pocket, yet film photography is making a comeback. Hatch’s Thomas Tobler finds out why.
We’ve already seen sales of vinyl records in Australia rise for six consecutive years, now another form of vintage tech is becoming popular again; the film camera.
Whether it be in the form of disposable, ‘point and shoot’ automatic cameras, or the manual Single Lens Reflex camera (SLR), people are embracing film photography at a rate not seen in quite a while.
Three years ago, UK based company, Ilford Photo, conducted a survey and found that 30 per cent of film users were under 35-years-old while 60 per cent had only started using film in the last five years. Another survey is currently underway but it’s clear the trend is continuing – with the opening of more stores dedicated to all things film.
Netflix has even jumped on the bandwagon, recently releasing a movie called Kodachrome. It celebrates the features and uniqueness of the longest surviving brand of colour film, which was discontinued in 2009.
Jason Sudeikis plays a band manager who has to drive his estranged/dying/famous photographer father across the US to get his last four films of Kodachrome developed. It’s a heartwarming father-son road trip story.
The film was actually inspired by an article that A. G. Sulzberger wrote in 2010 for the New York Times about the end of the Kodachrome era.
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One of the biggest signs that film is making a comeback, is the announcement that photography company Kodak Alaris, is re-starting production of some of its best-selling films – including the Ektachrome colour film, which was discontinued in 2012.
In a statement, Kodak Alaris explained: “The reintroduction of one of the most iconic films is supported by the growing popularity of analog photography and a resurgence in shooting film. Resurgence in the popularity of analog photography has created demand for new and old film products alike”.
In February this year, Kodak Alaris also announced it was going to bring back the black and white T-MAX P3200 film. Dennis Olbrich, President of Kodak Alaris, confirmed the company had been looking for opportunities to expand its portfolio. So it’s possible we might see the return of more discontinued films in the future.
The opening of stores like Rewind Photo Lab in Sydney’s CBD is more evidence that film photography’s in demand. It specialises in camera and film sales and processing; scanning and printing; and even has an in-store gallery space where they showcase photos from a different artist every two weeks.
Ben Ong is an artist who works at Rewind Photo Lab and has always shot on film. He believes that film photography has almost become a niche in itself, and although digital cameras are so good, everything is starting to look the same.
Pictures may be super sharp, but film has a look people are embracing, which Ong finds heartwarming.
“As photography is so accessible now and everyone has an iPhone, I think people are just looking for ways to be creative and I think film encourages that,” he told Hatch.
“The market is changing. Most people – like myself – who shoot film, can print digitally.”
He also says it’s a younger crowd looking into film. Some are just starting out as professional photographers and are learning to shoot film out of interest,
“Alot of people are buying old manual cameras off eBay… and we sell old cameras that we find off eBay just to encourage that movement”, he said.[blockquote style=”1″]”I think film, with scanning and its popularity, is going to be around for a long time. You don’t have to worry about that.”[/blockquote]
The grain and the imperfections that come with the whole film process are a big thing for Ong, and there are others who think the same way.
Jessica is a 20-year-old who lives on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and has recently taken up film photography as a hobby.
She purchased an automatic film camera off eBay after being introduced to the medium by a friend.
“I first started by just buying a disposable camera every now and then just for fun,” she said.
“And then after a while, I realised it was cheaper to buy a point and shoot camera, and the film, separately.
“I just really like the whole process. Buying the film, loading it up into the camera and then being careful with each shot you take because you don’t want to waste them.
Then going to get them developed and holding the pictures in your hands is something you don’t get to do anymore.”
It is fair to say that digital photography is still dominating the overall market, commercially and otherwise. But amateurs and professionals alike are looking for an authenticity in photography that cannot be found in a smartphone. – Thomas Tobler