Analogue photography Looking at film cameras through a new lens
Dario De Felice
@Dario De Felice
Crouching down while looking through his lens, 18-year-old Robert Lang-Sabourin attempts to capture the unique architecture of Dawson College's downtown campus on his impressive Nikon FM2 film camera. Robert is part of a trend that could be seen pretty much everywhere these days as many young Montrealers re-discovering the concept of film photography and its distinction from modern digital cameras and their smartphones.
"When I shoot film, I can't take 1000 pictures like on an iPhone. It forces me to be more precise and put more effort into every shot and has ultimately led me to be a better photographer," explained Robert while positioning himself to take another photo.
The rise of tech companies, including the addition of high-quality digital cameras on the majority of their smartphones, led people away from film photography. This caused the largest photographic film producer, Kodak, to declare bankruptcy in 2012. However, today, we are seeing teens dig out their parents' old film cameras to reclaim analogue photography and get a feeling of the good old days. "Taking pictures with a digital camera is just too generic in 2022. Using film makes it feel like a real picture," said Tyler Di Melo, film enthusiast and student at John Abbott College.
According to a 2021 article from DW media, major film manufacturers like Kodak and Fujifilm are noting this trend. Kodak has seen an increase in demand for film products, allowing
the company to emerge from bankruptcy. They note that surveys show that about one-third of film consumers are now younger than 35.
Young people are known to share everything on social media, and that doesn't stop with film. To share photos taken with analogue cameras on social media, teens scan their photographs and post them. The hashtag #filmisnotdead has been used over 20 million times on Instagram.
Located in Montreal's Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood, Studio Argentique is a vintage camera store that specializes in film. "A lot of our customers are young people who are interested in the aesthetic and craft that film cameras provide," said Grant, an employee at the store.
"In the last 2 years especially we've seen an increase of people interested in film. During the pandemic with everything going online, people appreciated being able to have moments they could save physically rather than just as a picture on their phone."
In addition, Studio Argentique explains that the cost of getting into film photography is a lot lower compared to digital photography. "With a cheap analogue camera and a couple rolls of fitting film, you can obtain comparable results to those of an expensive digital camera," said Grant. This makes it the perfect option for students who are on a budget and want to explore photography.
Looking forward, many believe the world of film will witness the same resurgence that has been seen with vinyl records and Polaroid cameras. Last year, Fujifilm sold over 10 million of their Polaroid cameras and saw a similar poppin' uptick with film. "If you grew up in a digital world, instant or photo film is new," explained Andy Ross of Fujifilm.
This may be the beginning of a movement that will see the continuous revival of obsolete technology becoming popular again. Perhaps we will see fax machines and VHS tapes make a comeback in the future; only time will tell.