Sadly the statement “Film is dead.” has been played out far too much over the past few years. While running errands in my neighborhood I noticed a long standing local photo processing business had closed its doors. The casual reader might quickly dismiss this, but I urge you not to. Why?
We all read articles and inflammatory posts online about film being dead, but in this instance it really is. Yes, perhaps if you split hairs, it’s film processing that is dead in my neighborhood, but actually it is film. You can’t really have one with out the other.
I was a film shooter for several years and intentionally learned film photography even when I could have got in the door when digital first came out. Having gone to local stores like this on a regular basis and establishing relationships with those that run them, seeing this store closed up really struck a nerve with me. This isn’t just a case of the economy collapsing, this was a true watershed moment to remember. I had to pull off the road when I saw this and quickly got my camera out, ironically of course a digital camera.
Getting up close to the window I noticed a letter to the stores patrons and I can’t get this one line out of my head.
Due to the advancement of digital photography and image distribution methodology, we are now obsolete.
I already know the title of my post will generate backlash from those who have recently discovered film, but if you have yet to witness a store closure like this in your neighborhood take note. With out processing services film photography is quickly being relegated to die hard enthusiasts willing to put up with scarce development resources or capable of developing their own work . There may likely be a couple of businesses that support mail-order development, but by and large the photography coroner can put a toe tag on film. Film is dead.
I can’t help but feel guilty. I have a refrigerator drawer full of film still, unused for a little over 4 years. If I had used it would this business have survived? Sadly no. More and more film production is falling by the wayside. So many film types and film producers could be named I’m embarrassed to list them. Everywhere you turn there is a digital camera. Take note if you haven’t already. On some level everybody is a photographer either with their cell phones cameras, point and shoot cameras or dSLRs.
I’ve been interested in photography for as long as I can remember and I still can’t believe how prevalent digital cameras are these days. The last day of the 2008 summer Olympics nearly every athlete caught on TV at the closing ceremony carried a digital camera of some sort. The last concert I went to was full of people snapping photos with their phones. Rubberneckers on the road now snap photos as they pass by with their camera phones. It’s endless and with such infinite applications and availability film has no chance. We all knew this was coming of course and we’ve heard about it coming for sometime. There certainly will be those that are in denial still, but for most I think we can safely say film is dead.
Living in a large city I’d imagine I’m one of the last to see the neighborhood film development store close, but it raises a question I’d like to ask you. When did you realize film is dead? If you don’t feel it is tell me why.
[tags]photography, film, film is dead, stock photo[/tags]
An update of sorts from my comment in February where I just bought an EOS Elan 7. I finally burned through the two rolls of B&W and got them developed at the local photo booth. It was an experience that left a bad taste…
It’s the only place to get film developed within about 15 miles of where I live. I dropped off the two rolls on a Monday but was told “our machine here is broken, we’ll have to take it to our store in the next town. Tomorrow alright?” Fine, says I.
Back the next day, the envelope isn’t among the approximately 10 envelopes of film in their box. “Oh, it wasn’t the B&W was it? We had to get the chemicals in, it probably won’t be here until Friday.”
Friday I go in… A different guy behind the counter “Machine is still broken, I hand-processed one roll, they look good by the way, but I’ll still need to do the second. Have them for you Monday?”
The next THURSDAY I go in (work kept me from going in earlier). Still not there! Woman at the counter calls up the main store to tell them that I’m really wanting my photos and can you drive them over here? I say don’t rush, I can’t pick them up until tomorrow (work again).
FRIDAY I go in. Pictures are there! But… They didn’t make sure the negatives were cleaned, water spots all over them and therefore the prints. Didn’t look at them until that night, so now I have to take them in and try to get either money or new prints back… with clean negatives!
Don’t remember this from my youth… drop off a couple rolls of film, get some lunch, pick them up afterwards and take them home. No wonder film is dead.
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I’ve studied, taught and lived film all my life but yes film is dead. As a professional digital pays the bills…but I’ll always respect film. Isn’t that the point, gone but not forgotten? Is digital better than analogue…no, but I would have to write a book to explain why.
I hate saying Film is dead myself. The film store I first reported on is now a cell phone store and the film I swear I’ll use again still sits in my refrigerator. While Film may be dead in day to day use it is not in my heart as I’m sure is the case for many who have commented here. I will shoot film again, but it will certainly be to satisfy pure passion of the art rather than the day to day effort that is undertaken with my digital SLR.
Film is dead …. Really? Is that why Kodak introduced two new films in the past two years?
Sorry, I’m still 100% film, and I see no reason to change. For those who think that professionals don’t use film, I suggest that you listen to the Inside Analog Photography podcast, you might learn something.
What has changed, is the way it is marketed. Granted, film manufacturers don’t sell the volume they once did, and as a film photographer, I have to make adjustments … but, I’ll do whatever it takes to keep shooting film.
As many concede here I think mass use of film is certainly dead. Not to claim that film will never be used, but it will fall / has fallen to niche use. Overall more types of film have been lost than gained. That is to be expected with the switch to digital from film for the mass consumer. Artists and some pros will never give it up and there will forever be a way to use film. I think the Impossible Project http://www.the-impossible-project.com/ proves that where there is a following there will be revival… even if the market drives the profitability for larger companies to discontinue films. Again… niche audience though.
DSLR’s can take much more awesome videos than normal camcorders with tiny sensors. Check out the Canon 5D Mark II
don’t listen to this guy. He is talking crap… I bet this guy is an analogue fanboy that still think film is better than digital. Photojournalists will use DSLRs for both stills and videos. You never heard of DSLR video revolution? Check out these websites:
In my opinion, 3D-photography and cinematography will replace 2D digital still imaging and videos within few decades.
Film isn’t dead. It’s just resting. If you want a digital SLR, you will pay a minimum of $500. If you want a film SLR, you can pay $20 and have enough left over to develop about 95 rolls of film.
Plus, film cameras have character. I recently bought a Kodak Retinette 1A for $5 off of eBay. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/7696518/vintage_camera_review_kodak_retinette.html?cat=15
Sure, the vintage Kodak is a challenge to use, but it is very satisfying to use successfully.
Plus, film cameras capture memories and digital cameras can supplant them. If I take a film camera to the swamp, I take 24 important pictures. If I take a digital camera, I take about 100 pictures of everything. There’s something to be said for enjoying a scene with eyeballs, with binoculars, and with your spouse instead of just taking a zillion pictures.
Film is dead to the casual consumer. However, as a die-hard who still processes her negatives in a tiny bathroom, I can say that film photography will always have a niche status. The more scarce the practice becomes, the more value it will retain as an art. You cannot deny the skill that is required to shoot with film. I am thirty two years old and I built my first darkroom when I was fourteen. In this Facebook age of instantaneous output, I can at least relish the consolation prize of knowing how to produce images that make digital look like shit. If you don’t believe me: flip through your old photography books or watch an early Jim Jarmusch or Kubrick B&W. Our scarcity shifts us from ‘photographers” to “artists”
Digital Shot,hows the tonal range.I still use film,have been for over 60 years.But the digital can be worked very well even for an old amateur like me.This was taken with a nikon D90/18-105 zoom/program mode/ISO400/windows crop/NX2 photoshop.
Why were you paying $20 a roll??
Luckily I can’t afford a full frame DSLR. And I like shooting film. The words ’35 mm’ strike a level of surprise and admiration today on a scale never seen before. Go ahead, shoot something on film and tell someone you shot it on film… the look in their eyes is priceless.
film’s not dead, it’s just gone underground 😉
No doubt there will always be admiration for film photographers and there should be. Really its a shame that its being scaled back so much, but it seems that since I posted this article there is a groundswell of interest in film again. That is a good sign.
Are you sure the store closed because of lack of interet in film, or because so many businesses and people are printing thier own digital photos, The header on the notice does say Express Digital + Photo.
I am currently running a black and white film photography project on kickstarter if anyone is interested: http://kck.st/vnfleZ
actually resolution on film is a lot higher than even the most expensive, medium format sensor digital slrs. A medium format film image can record an equivalent of approximately 50 megapixels, 4″x5″ large format films around 200 megapixels and 8×10″ about 800 megapixels. A medium format dslr provides from 42 to 50 megapixels, but cannot be enlarged with the same level of detail as medium format film.
The idea that film is dead is an understandable reaction to new dominant technology but it is in fact, not true. When photography was invented everyone said the painting was dead, same with tv and radio and countless other things. It has changed from being the mass commercial form of making images but if anything there is a resurge in interest in analogue now. It offers things digital just cannot do and we aren’t willing to give up.
Underground as in buried…It’s dead for all intents and purposes. Sure it goes on living, just like a corpse isn’t completely dead. It slowly rots, the various micro fauna within and without assures “life” activity of a sort. Yes will continue to be alive like that. Artists never give up on any medium, from paint to meat, from pee to feces, why leave out film? But just because it will be used doesn’t mean it will be alive in the same sense. Use of film will become sort of a statement, or performance art. Film will become the Bernie of A Weekend at Bernie’s…
I realized film was dead when years ago I could no longer purchase the high speed B&W 35mm film at my local store. Being an ameture photgrapher my whole life. I have been experimenting with digital and my wife says,’I do not understand why you take the pictures you do!’. i do for 35mm is an art and I grew up with that and now I am trying to continue being that artist with digital. Extremely difficult, but now I can take a million pictures.
I live in singapore which is an island nation in the south china sea close to malaysia. Film strangely enough is very lively here as almost all photo stores still develop and sell film at a moderate price 3.50 for a roll of color 35mm and around 5 for a roll of 120. There are entire malls here dedicated to film cameras and I usually see people here using old Hasselblads and Rolleiflexes. But if film is to survive it has to be downsized as the current market for film isnt what it used to be. However film is now getting popular among younger generations who grew up with digital in the form of lomography which is basically using crappy toy cameras to get light leak effects.