Film Is Dead — Long Live Film!

It’s always heartening to see people still swearing by film even though filters and plugins give an exactly same look. Here’s an upcoming documentary — probably shot on digital — exploring the continuing fascination with analog photography. Indie Film Lab, a small U.S. film lab, has teamed up with (now called) Kodak Alaris.

The documentary, a deeper look into why people still love shooting film, will be released this autumn. Here you get a first impression of the film about film with different photographers having their say and giving their reasons for their never-ending love for analog photography.

  • B. D. Colen

    I have not shot film regularly in at least a decade, and at all in, almost a decade. I grew up on film; I matured on film. I love the look of film. But I never would give up the convenience, the magic, of digital. Until very recently I did my own black and white conversions, which I was quite satisfied with and which many of my students adopted. Recently, however, you pointed me toward the VSCO plugins, which I have embraced as the closest thing to the look of film – especially Kodak Tri-X, since, well, film. However, I have real problems with your opening statement that “filters and plug-ins give an exact same look” as film. They most definitely do not. Film is film, and nothing looks precisely like film. If one wants an image to look precisely like film, one needs to load film into the camera. All of that said, I absolutely do not understand the cult-like fascination with film. Like copper plates, glass plates, and the Speed Graphic, it has been supplanted by a new capture medium. Is it a fascinating artifact of an earlier photographic age? Absolutely. Is it a terrific fine art material? Absolutely. But it no longer is synonymous with photography.

  • Valid points B.D. Even though each lab develops each film differently. Lab A gives me another Tri-X look than lab B. So I’m not so sure whether it’s really possible to tell a film print apart from a digital print if the latter has been “enhanced” by VSCO or a similar plugin.

    Whether nothing looks precisely like film is quite a statement given the advancements in post-processing technology. Again, depends on the lab and chemicals used.

    Using film, therefore, is less about the final look than the approach.