Watch Buzz Feed Attempt to Explain Film Photography to Today's Kids

Last month Buzzfeed took the time to sit the youth of today down and teach them what photography meant when film was involved. Being an adolescent of the 80's my favorite part of this video was a brief Gizmo appearance but you gotta question the wisdom of using a character from 1984 as a comparison, for a group who apperently knows nothing about film. Wait. Is there actually a group who don't know what film photography is? I'm getting old.
via [SLRLounge]

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Burt Johnson's picture

As a "child of the 80's", you are just a kid... :) I converted a spare bedroom into a darkroom in the 60's and 70's and spent hours at a time working on a single B&W print, trying to master the "zone system" of Ansel Adams.

Though it made for a good understanding of the basics, I wouldn't trade my Mamiya twin lens reflex film camera for my current Canon 5D MK III for an instant!

FWIW, my digital creations are on (or in my photo blog at

The death of film was the best thing that could happen to photography. I don't shed tears. Film is so limiting in terms of creativity. It's a cumbersome and tedious medium where most time is wasted with struggling with all the intricacies of film itself.
By employing digital photography I can put all my focus on the motif and theme unhindered by any media imposed restrictions.

I do agree that digital is a huge advancement in photography. No denying that. The speed and ease with which we can capture an image has pushed us into an era of art unhindered by cost concerns, which is a good thing. Also, its getting harder and harder to argue film superiority in things like resolution and latitude, and you can even mimic it pretty close in color and “feel” in post processing.

But the death of film being the “best thing that could happen to photography”? I don’t think so.

Limiting in terms of creativity? Certainly not.

First of all, film isn’t dead. Dying for mainstream uses yes, but still very much alive. It is still the choice of certain cinematographers in motion pictures, it has a thriving and perhaps growing amateur enthusiast market, and companies like Ilford and the impossible project are still working to bring out new advancements. Film is also a preferred archival medium (there was just an article on this website about 100 year old undeveloped negatives surviving in the arctic), and its the only format (in its 4x6 and larger iterations) accepted by national archives for historical records of buildings and landscapes. These uses leverage films few remaining advantages over digital, advantages that only film can currently provide. I sometimes rub shoulders with wedding photographers, and quite a few of them are at least thinking about going to (or even back to) film for the look and marketing potential, and several of them have had great success especially with medium format.

Film does not limit creativity, it in fact fosters it. By putting limits on what you can do technically, you force an artist to think creatively to overcome those limits. Even the simple limiting of how many frames you can shoot forces you to pick your images carefully and really THINK about what you are doing. The school where I took photography recently transitioned to digital, but only gives their students 512 MB cards just for that reason. When choices have weight, when they are much more permanent, costly, and tangible, they inherently take on more meaning. Film forces you to slow down, think about what you are doing, and weigh the costs. This inarguably makes you a better artist. Can you do this with digital? Of course. Do most people? Nope. I know I don’t. Put a digital camera in my hand, and I just start blasting away. At a wedding I shot recently, I had around 2k digital images, with maybe 200 of them coming out usable. I shot 24 frames of film as well, and 22 of them were usable. It also gives you something to hold… there is something magical and intensely personal and gratifying about pulling my negatives out of the wash for the first time. Here is the art I created all those weeks ago, in my hand! The only copy! It makes it so much more important to me. Makes me excited about shooting, rather than making it a chore.

Most of my arguments are purely subjective. If you don’t feel the same things, thats perfectly fine. But I know for my pursuits, film encourages me to become a better artist. For that reason alone, I hope it never dies.

tristan lamour's picture

Well said bro. I couldn't agree more!!!!

I find most adults don't even remember film. I shoot LF(4x5,5x7 & 8x10) and am often stopped by people curious about the camera and ask if film it is even possible to purchase anymore. I'm pretty young (36) but moved to LF film for the print quality of mural size installations. It's a time consuming process from start to finished print and not for everyone.

Checkout 99Phototricks website.

Film is dead. let it stay dead.