Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate digital photography; I have two digital cameras that are incredibly useful for taking casual photos, photos I don’t plan on keeping for years. But recently I’ve noticed at the drugstore how disposable cameras have just been piling up that nobody buys, many end up just being tossed away because they expire in the store and the store can no longer sell those ones… it seems like a waste of film, all those shots wasted, and I think digital photography, which, when you drill it down is inferior to traditional film in the long run, has contributed greatly to the rapid decline of traditional film products.
Sure, digital cameras are getting more and more advanced, but they’re lacking in substance; that is to say, digital cameras require very little effort or thinking. You can take a photograph and if you mess up, just edit it with Adobe Photoshop or Macromedia Fireworks later on. The photos are immediately stored to an SD memory card, and if you take one you’re unhappy with, you just delete it. The same goes for home movies, you just click a button and in a matter of minutes you have yourself a home movie saved to a memory card that can be enhanced, edited or deleted.
Traditional film is different, better in that it takes effort, time, expense and most of all thought. I’m not saying that digital photographers don’t think when they take snapshots, but there’s something special about traditional film, it isn’t for wasting on countless dumb cell phone self-photos or cat meme pictures, it’s for the important moments in life, the fun moments, the moments we never want to forget. It isn’t exactly cheap, but it wasn’t overly expensive either, and it provided photographers with film, a physical substance that was real, that existed. Traditional film isn’t as easy to enhance in fake ways, and with film types such as Super 8 (used for making home videos and today by film artists), you can mimic the aesthetic effects of traditional film but it just isn’t as real as the genuine grainy, nostalgic look you get on a Super 8 film reel.
So, why does it matter? I mean, digital cameras are cheap, easy, portable, effortless… lazy. Lazy, and void of much of the meaning that you can find in an old Kodachrome slide or Polaroid. And today’s generation doesn’t care about these traditional film formats, digital is their age, so when they grow up and inherit and join the workforce of photography, chances are they’ll just focus on cheap digital technologies and render traditional film obsolete, which is really very sad. Traditional film is amazing! The digital age has destroyed Kodachrome, convinced manufacturers to stop producing Super 8 cameras and even professional movies and box-office features are heading the digital way. So, what about archives? After all, how long does a DVD or a memory stick last compared to a strip of film? What about passport and crime photos?
Today’s generation likes everything to be instant, easy and lazy, with lasers and buttons and everything ready with the touch of a screen or the click of a mouse. They’ll quickly forget traditional film, so I’m really hoping that there are enough traditional film enthusiasts out there to keep the traditional film industry going for decades, even centuries, to come.
Some fictional movies show a great deal of respect for traditional film:
Super 8 (2011)
One-Hour Photo (2002)
All I can say myself is that I hope this generation (which I’m a part of unfortunately), wakes up and starts experiencing older products and technologies before it’s too late. Vinyl records, VHS tapes, cassettes, cameras, it’s all out there for now, waiting for people to rescue it from being left in the dust by cellular phones (cellular phones induce stupidity, I’ll never buy one!) and digital video and photo cameras.