What’s the appeal of old-school film photography?

Earlier this year, photo maker Kodak announced it needed more workers.

Kodak’s film finishing plant in Rochester, US, was running at full capacity 24/7 and after hiring 350 people last year, the company needed 100 more people to meet the growing demand for film photography.

“Our film business is experiencing a resurgence as demand has increased significantly for both photo and motion picture film,” Kodak communications director Kurt Jaeckel told Euronews Culture via email.

“Many amateur photographers have rediscovered film as part of the trend toward analog technology and many directors and cinematographers prefer the film look for everything from music videos to feature films.”

During the last years vinyl made an unexpected comeback, with even Audio cassettes enjoying a resurgence.

Is film photography part of this trend?

We’ll take a look.

TikTok, Kendall Jenner and inflation

During the summer, two women at Notting Hill Carnival were filmed by a street photographer. The touching image of them with their two babies has gone viral on TikTok, eventually finding its way to the women in the photo.

“It was very nice to walk past and capture the moment,” says Yossy Akinsanya, who took the shot with his 35mm lens.

“It’s exciting to document, the people there, the friendship, the culture and the times when people are really happy,” says the street, documentary and travel photographer who began her cinematic journey after the death of her aunt.

Two women at the Notting Hill Carnival – Yossi Akinsanya

“I just realized that I don’t have any documented moments with her to look back on or remember,” she says.

Akinsanya’s desire for a more permanent and sentimental approach to capturing photographs is reflected in the social media landscape.

Generation Z social media app of choice ICT Tac is filled with content creators championing the benefits and aesthetics of film photography. Influencers and celebrities also chimed in with model and reality TV star Kendall Jenner, even using a camera to document the Met Gala.

The only problem is the price. In 2021, Kodak increased its prices by 9-15%, while analog cafe – a site that collates data on film prices – notes that since February 2022, all brands combined, prices have increased by an average of 3 .52% to reach €11.46 per 35mm roll. .

While the film photography industry has been hit hard by supply chain issues related to the pandemic Akinsanya blames increased demand for price hikes and difficulty buying his favorite Kodak gold.

“It was definitely a lot more difficult. I had to sign up to get email alerts when they got it,” she says.

Wildlife photography in the digital age

The irony that sentimental photographs that last a lifetime are popularized on an app like TikTok is obvious. However, the proliferation of digital cameras that many remember from the 2000s seems to have been abandoned with the advent of the smartphone.

This split second photography is what Akinsanya was trying to get away from and also presents problems for more experienced photographers.

Graeme Purdy has been traveling the world for 20 years as a wildlife photographer and is candid about the challenges posed by the current digital and information ecosystem.

“In the 80s or 90s, a portrait of a lion – people had never seen that before. A photo of an elephant was pretty cool, but now they’re so ubiquitous. How can you photograph an elephant or a lion that would excite people?”

Graeme Purdy, Purdy Photography

Graeme Purdy photographing elephants in Kenya – Graeme Purdy, Purdy Photography

During COVID-19[feminine] Purdy returned to his first love of film photography, taking the opportunity to relive his darkroom memories as a schoolboy. After remembering a 35mm camera, he quickly moved on to larger formats.

“I relearned everything I had forgotten about film photography,” he says.

Purdy eventually took a GX17 on a trip to Kenya to photograph elephants, balancing the huge camera on an ottoman in the back of a Land Rover to take his shots and setting his exposure using of an old-fashioned viewfinder.

He was able to take 15 photos a day compared to the thousands of his companions using phones and digital equipment.

“I loved it, it was so exciting”

“I got caught up in the emotion. It motivates me, it’s part of what makes a movie exciting. You’re going to take better pictures if you’re motivated and excited.

Romanticism and nostalgia

A return to film photography might seem odd in the digital age, but in the current iteration of social media, it makes a lot of sense.

The 2000s saw an era of mass uploads of digital camera photos to Facebook. Today, professional and amateur photographers upload videos of themselves using their analog cameras to TikTok. The cameras themselves are not simply means of taking images but are part of an aesthetic through the medium of video.

The technical elements of film photography can be exciting, but their appeal as elements of heritage and nostalgia is more so.

For Purdy, who specifically references the “hipster trend” in amateur photography for the rise of film use, the technical elements are exciting, but the nostalgia is even more so.

“I used the same camera as Ansel Adams and Jacques Cousteau.

“I find the romance and the story behind the gear exciting. It gets me out of bed. I make plans because I wanted to use the camera.

A longing for the past is reflected in Akinsanya.

“People want to document moments like our parents did with photo books back then,” she says.

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