At the turn of the century, film photography was the easiest way to capture memories. Digital cameras weren’t common yet and smartphone adoption was still more than a decade away. In 1999, American consumers bought more than 800 million rolls of 35mm film. These rolls captured precious film photos ranging from weekend getaways to proposals and births.
Over the past few decades, the popularity of film photography significantly dropped, and people started seeking out photo and slide scanning services to digitize their old photos. There were only 20 million rolls of 35mm film sold in 2011. However, in recent years, the demand for film has started to increase. In October 2022, Kodak announced plans to hire 300 workers to keep up with orders from wholesalers and customers.
Smartphones can take an unlimited number of photos and display them instantly, so why are people going back to film photography? The answer lies in the younger generations, many of which grew up with smartphones in their hands. Here’s why film cameras are making a comeback.
Parents Are Passing Down Their Cameras
Even though technology keeps moving forward, people tend to hold on to their old devices. Think about the old tech you keep around. Do you have an old phone stored in a drawer in case your newer model breaks? Do you keep an old computer on-hand in case of emergencies?
Throughout the rise of digital point-and-shoots and smartphones, many people held on to their film cameras. Some of these devices are 25-35 years old now, making them antiques to the kids and grandkids that hold them.
In the same way that younger generations are fascinated by typewriters and floppy discs, today’s kids look at film cameras as relics of the past. One of the reasons these film cameras are making a comeback is because the younger generations are starting to use these cameras again, and use film photos as a way to break away from the always-on world of social media.
Waiting for Film Photos is Considered a Treat
If you lived through the era of film development, you might remember the frustration and anticipation of waiting for your film rolls to get developed. Even if you took advantage of a One-Hour Photo in your area, you still needed to drive out to drop off the rolls and then pick them up again. Compared to the instant world of smartphones, it was a pain.
However, younger film photographers don’t see it that way. Instead, they enjoy the treat of receiving photos from a film roll they shot a few weeks (or months) back. Gaining access to digital prints of film photos is like receiving a gift in the mail.
“It’s the part of not knowing what your shot looked like, until you get your scans back, that makes it special,” says 21-year-old Luis Gonzalez in an interview with Marketplace.
Of course, what sets this generation apart is that they have the privilege of instant photos alongside their film creations. This makes film photography cameras making a comeback more of a hobby or art for kids, rather than the only way to take photos.
Film Photography Makes Taking Pictures Special
Another reason why the younger generation is embracing film photos is because it allows them to focus on the moment. Smartphone photography and videography have become an almost constant presence in society. You can take a photo of almost anything – and miss almost anything doing it. You can see this in people who take 100 photos of the sunset but never actually watch the sun go down – or when concert attendees spend more time filming the band for their social channels than actually jamming to the music.
Film photos challenge people to live in the moment and only take a picture if the elements are right.
“When you’re taking photos on your phone, it’s almost like you’re disconnected to what you’re actually doing,” Riana Jayaraj tells The Guardian. “With film, you only have one shot – you take it and you just hope that it’s good…because you’ve only got like 35 shots on the roll and it costs money to get it developed.”
With film cameras making a comeback, even the act of taking a picture with film becomes more meaningful. You need to pay more attention to the lighting and content because you don’t want to waste the shot.
Film Photography is Viewed as a Craft
Film photography is even giving DSLR users a run for their money. Any form of photography can create art, but film photos increase the challenge level beyond digital cameras. A DSLR has auto and manual settings. Novice photographers can enjoy perfectly balanced photos with just a few clicks. Manual photographers can adjust the ISO and f-stop, but they also still have the luxury of taking as many photos as they want and seeing the images immediately to adjust them.
Film photographers see themselves as experts in their craft. The ISO of the film is set in stone, so film users need to work with other settings at their disposal. They also need to triple-check their settings, otherwise, their subject could get completely blown out or the film photos could come out blurry.
Taking film photos is considered a fun challenge for people who want to advance their photography skills – and get the reward of amazing shots.
We Accept Photo Prints, Film Packets, and Slides
Film photography has come a long way since the age of disposable cameras brought on vacations and handed out at weddings. Demand for high-quality film cameras is growing and film is making a comeback.
If you lived through the peak days of film, you might have boxes of developed print photos and film packets in your closets. It’s time to declutter and step into the digital era. At Memory Fortress, we scan old photo prints and turn them into digital files. You can take your photo albums from the 1980s and turn them into folders on your desktop.
Learn more about the services we offer and how we can help you move out of the past and into the future of photography. Whether you rely on a trusty DSLR or still use the same film camera you had in college, we can help you keep all of your files digitized and organized.
We digitize everything right here at our facility in metro Atlanta, processed by US citizens.