We Hereby Declare the Death of Film Photography
It's dead. For real this time.
Oh yes it is.
This week, the British Journal of Photography reported that Fujifilm -- who makes the wonderfully saturated and potent negative and slide films for 35 millimeter, medium-format and large-format cameras -- is raising the retail cost on all of its photographic film by double digits.
This means that $7 to $8 for a roll of Pro 160S will now increase to at least $14 (and probably more). The increase goes into effect next month.
Twice the price is not so nice -- the same applies to Kodak, who also recently announced a fee hike -- and means that film photography will become a niche art form.
Instead of its own separate and beautiful thing, C-41 negatives and E-6 positives will become part of the alternative process canon that includes ambrotypes and cyanotypes.
Years ago, college campuses ditched their color darkrooms. Now they'll start tossing D-76 chemicals, 120 film negative carriers and Beseler enlargers into the trash, where the rubbish will decay alongside other dead art machines like analog tape recorders.
Some will continue to power through the stupid-high cost of developing and printing to exhibit at local galleries.
But once the final product hangs on the white wall, collectors will be less inclined to drop coin on the marked-up product. That is if gallery owners are even willing to show a series of work that won't give them the sales they need to keep the lights on.
Soon, we'll only see art spaces such as Alfred Stieglitz's 291 art gallery.
One of the leaders of the Photo-Secession movement, the artist loved analog photography so much and wanted it promoted as a legitimate art form so badly that the New York City space was floor-to-ceiling packed with handmade prints. Modern-day equivalents will pop up, but it won't be the same.
There will also be kicked-to-the-gutters-of-society revivals akin to Roberto Bolaño's Visceral Realism poetry movement, which the late novelist depicts in The Savage Detectives. These future shutterbugs, with a Hasselblad in one hand and a light meter in the other, will try hard to revive the deceased art form, but nobody will care about these so-called cult members.
We've experienced death before, but this one really hurts.