The future of film: A new hope
Film is changing. And it is getting more and more exciting. There is a lot of interesting stuff going on that you will all be seeing soon. I took a trip to Hong Kong last week and learned a lot. Come and check it out.
Over the last few months there have been a lot of changes in the film world. Not least with the Lomo/Kodak partnership, Fuji going on the slash and burn, Ilford quietly sitting there happy churning out the film, Cinestill becoming a huge hit and Ferrania making a comeback. A while ago I wrote this piece on the future of film, and I was optimistic that film would change for the better. And it has done.
Recently, as some of you may know, I made a trip to Hong Kong. This was not really a vacation, as I had business to attend to whilst I was there, but I also had the time to check out what is going on with the film scene there. Hong Kong has a strong and vibrant film scene and more and more I am seeing it as a barometer of what is going on with the film market. Trends move quickly in HK and there are a lot of really passionate film shooters. Whilst I was in HK I visited film shops, darkrooms and I met a lot of shooters. And the message was really positive. Film is not going anywhere. In fact, it seems to be gaining traction in Hong Kong and Asia. And China is rapidly becoming a huge market as people have more expendable wealth.
Hong Kong has an excellent range of films available, more than Japan by a long way and this is going to increase. I was fortunate enough to meet with a group of people who are dedicated to bringing film to a wider market, and they will be bringing a huge range of films from makers such as Ferrania and Rollei back onto the international market. This is a very exciting venture and I am looking forward to working with them on this. Yes, JCH is going to start selling film!
In Hong Kong I had the opportunity to meet a lot of really interesting people, some who shot film, some who shot digital, but all who were passionate about photography. One of the questions I was asked by someone new to photography was “why should I shoot film?” and it gave me pause for thought. Why should you shoot film? I am not going to say what you should or should not shoot, but I explained that shooting would give him the chance to learn a great deal about the basics of photography, he would have a hell of a lot of fun, and he would get the chance to slow down for a while and take some time for himself.
As I explained, Shooting film gives me discipline and also gives me the chance to step back from my busy schedule (JCH takes up a huge amount of my time) and do something for myself. Not to mention the fact that I love the grain, the feeling of burning an image on to something indelible. We have made everything in our lives about instant gratification now, we must have things immediately. For some things, this is great, but I feel that for others it is less so. We take a million shots on our phones, but never print them. We have hard drives brimming with images that we rarely look at. I feel that film photography has a role in grounding us and giving us an escape from this frenetic lifestyle that often consumes us and leaves us feeling empty and unfulfilled.
I am not discounting digital photography in any way, it is useful and necessary (and has its own artistic merits), and the two mediums can work alongside happily. But for personal projects I think film is a great way to express yourself and hold yourself to a standard of discipline that it is all too easy to ignore when shooting digital, especially when you are a beginner.
And in a nub, this is the future of film. We are looking at film becoming an artistic standard for those who want to create something indelible. Film photography is an artistic medium and it is not going away, it is not even dying. Judging by the ongoing popularity of this site and the upcoming developments in film, I would say that film is actually the healthiest it has been in years. Cinestill and people like this are making exciting products. Ferrania will be back next year with a whole new range of film, Rollei are making quiet inroads into international distribution for their films (of which there is a huge range) and hopefully Kodak/Lomo will actually come through and re-release some of the classics.
The future of film is bright, and getting brighter. I am dedicated to this and I am going to do my best to bring you all film without it breaking the bank or becoming an inconvenience. Shooting film does not have to be expensive, you can shoot with a $10 camera and still have a fantastic experience. And developing at home makes it even cheaper (and a lot more fun).
Make film part of your lifestyle, you will not regret it.
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As always, comments and thoughts are greatly appreciated and encouraged.