Social Media’s Role in the Resurgence of Film Photography

by Hannah Lee ’21

 It is clear that all things hailed as “vintage” have made a significant comeback for teens today. Mom jeans, scrunchies, vinyls; the list goes on. The resurgence of film photography is no exception. Apps like Huji, VHS Cam (which make pictures appear as if they were shot on VHS)  and the use of disposable cameras have been noticeably prominent as an “aesthetic” on social media platforms. These apps and disposable cameras have brought much needed awareness back to traditionally processed film, benefitting the film photo industry.

 For those who are unfamiliar with the different processes, digital cameras use a digital sensor to capture the image whereas film cameras use a light sensitive film (therefore you can’t see the picture immediately after taking it). Film can be more tedious and difficult to handle since you must use up the whole roll before being able to develop the pictures and see how they came out. However, there’s a certain timeless and romantic element to film which draws people to it. The quality of the image produced is more soft and higher resolution than most digital photos. Photographers also have to think more before shooting; the limited number of shots makes each picture count and hold more meaning.

 “I like to shoot film because we’re so inundated with technology in our everyday lives; everyone’s taking pictures with their cell phones or digital cameras nowadays,” said photography teacher Joanna Yoder. “One of the things I first fell in love with in photography was the process, and I think you lose some of that when you’re just clicking a button. By shooting film you’re actually more involved in the process and it opens your mind up to more creativity.” 

 Some may believe “film” editing apps result in people using a shortcut rather than actually picking up a film camera. Yoder doesn’t think so. “They can work hand in hand,” she said. Yoder believes such apps can foster more creativity and come in useful when editing photos; she believes they do inspire teens to try their hand at an actual film camera. Although the majority of teens are posting edited “film” pictures primarily to seem “cool” or “aesthetic,” it continues to raise awareness for the once dying art. Specialty photography stores and darkrooms (where film photos are developed) have expanded, due to the increased number of youth taking up film. There continues to be places where film can be developed and sold. Cheap film cameras can be found on Ebay, Amazon, and many other websites. Even some trendy stores like Urban Outfitters are beginning to sell them.

 “I think it’s important to remember where things started and to come back to it and to keep doing it to keep it alive. There’s so much history behind it,” said senior Clara Weirsma, an avid film photographer.