Over the last few years, film photography has formed a sort of choke-hold on the picture and art industry, causing equipment and film prices to soar to unprecedented heights as professionals and enthusiasts alike are trying to find the next perfect shot for their Instagram.
According to The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Department of Photography, film photography has been around for almost two centuries, gaining widespread popularity with the invention of affordable and accessible 35mm film cameras. When these cameras first became available to consumers, people were able to easily, and instantly, capture special moments and historic events in photos instead of relying on memory or paintings. But since the early 2000s, the middle child of the photography family, the DSLR camera, has become the golden child of photographers worldwide.
Digital cameras offered a cheaper and easier way to to capture precious moments, as they do not require the purchasing and developing of film. Current developments in photography technology, including the ever-improving quality of phone-photography, has made the photography medium instantly accessible to almost everyone. This all-digital photography phase even caused one of the biggest household names in film – Kodak – to file for bankruptcy in 2012.
However, with more and more people taking pictures on their iPhones, and the lack of expertise and experience required to take a good picture with a digital camera, certain people are looking for a niche; something that requires patience, a bit of a learning curve, and perhaps even something that evokes some nostalgia of the 1970s, 80s and 90s. This is where the revival of film photography comes in.
Film photography returned to the mainstream in the mid 2010s with polaroid pictures once again becoming vogue, and film photographers like Jason Kummerfeld (better known on YouTube as grainydays) inspiring others to take up his craft. But film didn’t really see a full-scale revival until the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.
Many aspiring hobbyists dug through their grandparents’ storage units or scoured online marketplaces like Ebay and Facebook Marketplace in search of cheap and functional vintage 35mm film cameras to help relieve the lockdown-induced cabin fever. According to a recent CBC article on film photography, most of these hobbyists are under the age of 25.