Reemergence of film photography

Photography and memory keeping has been  big interests amongst the Gen-Z. Put that together with their love for nostalgia and the retro aesthetics of the late 90’s and Y2K. The current comeback, film photography. Why is it so popular amongst Gen-Z?

Photo by Mohammed Aljarba, Nikon FE2, Kodak Porta 400.

Film cameras have been a round for the better part of a century and they’re wildly popular amongst professional photographers, especially those who lived long enough to experience them as nuances. With the introduction of digital cameras and DSLR’s which spread in popularity like wildfire and were favoured immediately by the general populous in the early 2000’s, the love for film cameras became increasingly a niche, a remanent of the past, a medium that only an artisan would appreciate. But like all things retro, they were bound to come back in style.

From the mid to late 2010’s appreciation for film photography began steadily increasing. Fast forward to 2022 within few years, film photography became popular again in the mainstream. There are many reasons which caused this sudden increase in popularity, but one major reason was influencers.

Photo by Mohammed Aljarba, Nikon FE2.

During the first covid lock down in 2020 many people began searching for hobbies. And for some there was no search it was a stumble upon a passion. Many Gen-Z influencers at that time began dabbling in photography, and the majority happen to chose film as their medium. People were shocked at the results the photographs yielded with no prior setup or an after edit. Fans started to rush to camera and souvenir shops to buy disposable film cameras-because they were the cheapest and easiest to use, they became the favoured film cameras of choice-film cameras began to quickly grow further in popularity with every post, every photo sent to the guests a week after a party, etc. This however caused major controversy amongst environmentalists, as film cameras are not exactly the most sustainable option out there, especially disposable film cameras.

After film photography became mainstream again, it did not take enthusiasts long to switch from disposable film cameras and invest in either reloadable point in shots, which offer the same ease as the disposable ones, without having to buy one every time they finished a roll of film. Many of the enthusiasts how are not quite professional, but capable in photography started opting for vintage SLR’s such as Nikon’s, Canon’s, Fuji’s, Minolta’s and of course the holly grail of all film cameras the Leica’s-although mainly favoured by professionals.- inevitably film photography gained so much popularity that now people try to recreate its affect using special applications.

Photo by Mohammed Aljarba, Nikon FE2, Kodak Porta 400.

Film photography and videography (Super 8) has gained so much popularity that according to Kodak Euphoria both director Sam Levinson and cinematographer Marcel Rev wanted to shoot the entire second series on film. They apparently convinced Kodak to reproduce 35mm Kodak Ektachrome, which was previously discontinued. Speaking on Euphoria, lead actress Zendaya was also one of the celebrities that had influence over film popularity amongst Gen-Z’s, as she shot and shared many stills of the behind the scene during the filming of series 1 and 2. Another cinematographer that used film while shooting was Jarin Blake for the filming of the lighthouse, which according to The Hollywood reporter “was shot entirely on black and white 35mm film.

There are many other reasons why film photography picked up in popularity other than the influence of celebrities. One of the reasons film photography made a come back is fashion. 90s and Y2K aesthetics in fashion made many comebacks but most recently during the late 2010’s and it’s still on going. Many fashion bloggers and fashion enthusiasts realized that their modern photos with retro clothing are clashing, and they realized that film photography would give them the exact aesthetic they were going for.

Photo by Mohammed Aljarba, Nikon FE2, Kodak Porta 400.

The biggest reason why film photography became favoured is the quality of the photos. Film cameras produce a certain quality that it is unmatched no matter how much you try to recreate it in editing. The contrast, the grain, the exposure and most importantly the way the film captures colours. The way the film captures photos makes it an instant memory regardless if it was taken a year ago or a moment before the roll was dropped at the developers. That in a day and age where nostalgia is common feeling amongst the youth, made film a cultural staple of the 2020’s.

Other reasons why people have found interest in film include;

Not knowing how the stills will turn out or turn out at all- as many people shoot on expired film rolls due to the high demand- Art projects. And product development.

Here are some shops to check out if you’re interested in film photography:

  1. Aperture UK 17 Riding Street.
  2. Snappy Snaps 49 Hertford Street.
Aperture UK 17 Riding Street. Snappy Snaps 49 Hertford Street.

At the speed in which film photography is increasing and the increase of demand and lack there of in supply of film rolls, will film photography withstand the test another time or will it disappear and come back in  another decade?

Written by Mohammed Aljarba.

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