Published on February 9th, 2018 | by Nora Farahdel


Old School Photography Revival

Over the years photography has changed from an exciting novelty to a mere app on an iPhone. Photography has become straightforward in a digital age where photo streaming takes seconds. But recently, old types of photography have been making a comeback, with brands like Kodak and Fujifilm leading the way. Digital cameras and iPhones are being traded for disposable film and Polaroid cameras. The question posed: why are we ignoring our new and affective technology for older cameras?


First off, these cameras were used in a time that is very close to all teenager’s hearts: the 90s. 90s inspired trends have been in full force, from mom jeans to track pants. Post-millennials have fled the malls for thrift stores, searching for the perfect vintage wardrobe. Vintage cameras give teenagers the type of 90s nostalgia that they dream of.


This unexpected nostalgia comes from the unknown that film and instant photography give. For those born in the digital age, printed photography is a novelty. As a digital generation, we have grown tired of the same pictures being shared across various social media platforms. In the search for something fresh and new, film cameras have emerged as every social media driven teen’s savior. The cameras also invoke actual thought because people are forced to pick and choose special moments to photograph. There’s an appeal in the anticipation of waiting to see how the photos will turn out, rather than getting instant feedback.


Photography teacher Martin Ledford teaches students the depths of photography through film and digital cameras. Ledford has countless reasons to why film is becoming popular again, one of them being the element of surprise the cameras invoke.


“Perhaps there’s a mystery still to film; you don’t get to see what you shot until you process it, so you may go a day or week or however long it takes to process your film kind of not knowing and then when you get it back it’s a surprise,” Ledford said. “All these filters for the phones: ios and android devices. I mean, it’s sorta peaked, you know. It’s like no one’s photos are looking any different. I think some people simply like the way film looks; it has a look that you can’t recreate on a computer or phone. There are apps that try to do it, but they just don’t do it well.”


For some people, the decision to use film is as simple as the dislike of photoshop and the editing process that comes with digital pictures. For others there is an appeal to working in the darkroom and personally creating the pictures you’ve taken.


Samo alumni Nico Young (’17) was enrolled in Ledford’s photography class and had his big break when he was chosen by “The New York Times” to create a photo essay on the timeless rituals of high school. Young chose to use film to document his photo essay, going against the grain of professional photographers today. Young was drawn to film because of the distinct look it created for his photos. His photos showcased nostalgia and emotions, including the audience in the experience pictured in the photo.


“He shot his ‘New York Times’ essay when he was here all on film, and that was because he hated photoshop, and for him he knew the look he wanted. It did give his images a very unique look which is very beautiful. The way light falls off of the subject on film vs. digital is very different,” Ledford said.


Every aspect of modern day life has been taken over by technology and shortcuts, but the reemergence of old school photography proves that some things never go out of style. Film cameras will always create a different type of photo than digital: with different lenses, costs and development. Film cameras create an appeal that is indispensable. Regardless of how our world advances, these old school cameras are here to stay.   

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