Film Photography: Trend or Timeless?

I’ve always been interested in photography. However, while my other friends were taking photography classes in High School, I was doing college courses. I didn’t have a need for a “fine arts” credit, so I never got around to it. I was pretty much always on a strict schedule of overachievement so that when the time came, I could be the first college graduate in my family. It was a conscious choice I made, and I don’t regret it.

Fast forward to 2015/16 and I come across an instagram page called @Moment. They make removable lenses for mobile phones. I was excited that I wouldn’t have to drop serious money on a camera, but at the time, I didn’t have the money to drop on their system either. I casually followed them, but didn’t really have an excuse to buy one of their lenses. As time went on, I subscribed to their youtube, learned to take better mobile photos, downloaded their manual photography app, etc. I basically learned how to be a photographer without having a full frame camera. I started following other photographers on instagram (Chris Burkard, Alex Strohl, Keith Ladzinski, Michael Shainblum, Chris Poplawski, etc.) and absorbing their material. I bought myself a Joby tripod and a Jelly fish phone mount. I got some pretty awesome time lapses, took family photos, took a million photos of my daughter, and basically just practiced photography with my iphone.

As time went on, I transitioned from a full-time office job to a full-time self-employment job at home. Making a lot more money if I’m being honest. This gave me some play money, and I started buying small things from Moment to improve my photography game. Still didn’t have a reason to splurge on lenses yet. I started with a thinner phone case that would allow me to attach their lenses someday. And then the unthinkable happened. My wife decided to open her own hair salon in our house. This meant she needed to be cranking out content on her social media channels. I saw my opportunity and seized it. I bought Moment’s wide lens and telephoto lens. As we kept going, I got their anamorphic lens for videos, a DJI gimbal to steady the shot, a better tripod from Peak Design, a setup that allowed me to attach a light and mic to my phone, lens filters for buttery footage, and a macro lens for fun. I went full Moment.

During all of this, I noticed a trend on social media. Film was coming back. Subtle things that friends would post suggested they were getting into film photography. Having grown up in the Great Transition (as I like to call it), I grew up with my parents having a film camera and film video cameras, and I watched everything transition to digital. So film canisters littered my closet, mainly being used for my ridiculous coin collection. I pushed the thought of getting into it aside, as my mobile photography hobby was getting worked on and if I was going to get a full frame camera, it was going to be a digital one.

Still, more and more film camera related things were popping up on my feeds. It wasn’t until Moment announced they were selling instant photo cameras that I decided to look into film. I must have flipped a switch because film related content was rushing in everywhere. I spent hours pouring over the best types of all manual film cameras. I watched countless youtube videos. I took a look on ebay and realized that the prices have skyrocketed on all the cameras I was looking at. The market always compensates for demand. By any means, I decided to place a few bids and offers.

I didn’t think I’d win any, but here I sit with two Canon ae-1 and two olympus OM-1 cameras. I resold one of the Olympus cameras after refurbishing it (courtesy of youtube videos), and ended up making more than what I bought it for. I’m not saying this is a good business model, but if your parents or grandparents have one laying around, beg for it. I then delved into lenses for these old cameras. As some of you may know, old lenses tend to have scratches, mold, dust, or fungus in them. I did a lot of research, read through countless lens histories and reviews and was able to get pretty good deals on decent lenses for my cameras.

So now I have two film cameras and a new hobby. I enjoy the simplicity of no electronics. Of focusing a lens. Of advancing the film. It’s simple. Everything else I have going on is difficult. Film just feels like an escape. I can see the appeal. I also appreciate the wait. I have to use a whole roll before I can see the images. We’ve grown accustomed to instant gratification.

I recently came across an article about how Kodak has quadrupled their film output since 2016. Some celebrity made a post about a film camera and Kodak’s sales exploded. I hopped on board because of an instagram page talking about film cameras. I thoroughly enjoy it and plan on shooting film until my cameras die. But how many people will put it to the side in a few years? And that begs the question. Is film here to stay?

Published by sjtillman

I have ADHD and Anxiety, the perfect match made in heaven. I am a proud father and husband. I work too much, travel too little, but try to backpack and hike as much as possible. I do a lot of research and have too many thoughts in my mind.

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