Making Every Shot Count—Why Film Photography is Making a Comeback

By Dewayne Bingham, Assistant Photo Editor–

As camera manufacturers compete to have the most megapixels and best autofocus systems, there’s never been a more exciting time to be a photographer. We’re living in a golden age for visual storytelling.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a desert rock, though, you’ve probably noticed the growing resurgence of analogue photography and idealization of a retro, low-fi artistic style.

You might wonder why modern professionals and artists are waving off the chance to shoot with imaging technology forged by decades of innovation. So let’s explore the nuances of 21st century counterculture and its relationship to artistic media and expression…

Just kidding—I’m saving that for my thesis.

Some theorists argue that it’s a feeling of nostalgia which attracts folks to analogue photography. After all, there’s something about shooting and observing a photo with “the film look” that takes us back in time and gives us the warm and fuzzies.

I would argue it goes beyond that, though. If fond memories and vintage luster were the crux of what modern audiences were searching for, they’d turn to old newspapers and family photo albums. The nostalgia attached to the photos, movies and songs we love is created by our connection to them and the passage of time, not what genre or medium they fall into.

Shooting analogue is not cheap, either. Film and vintage cameras are increasing in price just as quickly as they are in popularity.

You could blow $13 on one roll of Kodak, expose all 36 frames incorrectly and be totally unaware until you receive the scans from a lab. Having a finite number of shots is not always conducive to learning or practicing photography, especially when each mistake costs precious time and money. The immediacy of feedback with digital cameras is invaluable for beginners and even experienced shooters working on important projects with little room for error.

But for those who’ve honed the craft and are comfortable removing the proverbial training wheels of instant feedback, the level of intention and attention that analogue photography demands could separate you as a visual storyteller.

Most artists, journalists, portrait, wedding and street photographers would all agree that a compelling story trumps clinical sharpness and megapixel count every single time. What better way to exercise telling a story than by stripping away the bells and whistles of your tools.

Limitations yield innovations. That’s why we’re seeing so many talented creators making names for themselves today by breaking mainstream conventions and minimizing their toolset.

So, why is film making a comeback?

In our oversaturated and fast-paced online environment, it’s easy for artists and storytellers to prioritize volume over quality.

But by slowing down and being more intentional, we create work with greater depth—photos that tell better stories, stand out and make us feel more fulfilled. Analogue photography forces us into those better practices.

It doesn’t do the work, it forces us to.

Again, film isn’t the key to becoming a great photographer. You can practice and develop healthier creative habits no matter what medium you utilize. Making meaningful work begins with slowing down, embracing your limitations, and being mindful of what you’re trying to say.

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