Back to Basics

Many of my friends ask me why I take film photos. They state: “Lauren, it’s so much easier to just take a photo on your iPhone,” and “Why would you wait so long just to see a picture?!” Film photography is a time honored tradition, one that has gotten lost in the sea of new technology. I believe the modern age has taken away the manual style of life for the world.

The satisfying feeling of taking a photo, not just to snap a quick picture, a real feasible photo, is one that the our generation does not know. I know that the wait is long between taking a photo, finishing the roll, getting it developed and picking it up. It is something that requires time and patience—something high schoolers don’t have very much of.

Between the drive to the film developer and paying for a measly 24 photos, most parents aren’t encouraging of their child’s interest in a practice that would be mainly the same and easier than film.

My parents, however, are not like that. Since I first ventured into photography, they have been supportive in the payment and development of my photography. When most of my friends’ parents are a little younger than mine, my parents were born in a time when film photography was black and white, and it was the only way to take a photo. They see the purpose in taking a photo, not a quick picture. And all the while my photo wall in my room has grown, to over 200 photographs; my parents have been excited to see every new roll that comes out of my camera. In a time when anything can be deleted and erased, it’s nice to know there’s something concrete and solid. To get your film back and see the physical negatives of the photo, an actual piece of film, is something digital photos can never offer to you. Photography used to be more than just selfies on Instagram, or an attachment to a tweet. You couldn’t simply add a filter to make your unclear photo of your new manicure look good. It used to be an art form, an escape for those taking the photos.

I’ve seen what real photography looks like, real and true people using the art to express deep and meaningful situations. Although guilty of posting the occasional old photo on “Throwback Thursday,” the constant stream of teenagers posting revealing selfies and smoking cannabis has gotten to a whole other level. When I go on Instagram, all I see are “selfies” on Sunday and pictures of peoples’ drinks from Starbucks. The new style of photography that includes “outfit of the day” makes the art of taking a photo turn into a joke. It’s becoming harder and harder to be taken seriously when our generation is using photography to tell everyone what they’ve bought for the new school year. I know that the lengthy wait before seeing a picture that I had taken, seems like forever and a day. But when I receive the envelope containing priceless memories and mysterious photos, it makes me feel accomplished in a way that nothing else can.

It is sad that most teenagers do not know this extraordinary feeling, that they will never feel the loud shutter click and the stability of another age. Old school film photos have documented world wars and world peace. They have been around much longer than the iPhone or digital camera. So, I’m hoping, that they will last a little longer, just enough to beat out the transformation Tuesday’s and become their former glories: works of art.