We Hereby Declare the Death of Film Photography

Categories: Photography

filmphotodead.jpg
Oh yes it is.
It's dead. For real this time.

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.

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18 comments
flifishun
flifishun

 Washington University in St.Louis had sold off all of there color darkroom equipment a few years ago. They have now repurchased all the equipment, at great expense, to put the color darkroom back in place. They realized they made a mistake.

Dmac
Dmac like.author.displayName 1 Like

I have no idea why people write these things without checking facts. First there was an article on CNN saying it costs $50 to develop a roll of film, and now this. In a store, it costs about $6 to develop a roll of film. That goes as low as $1 or $2 for develop only. Second, Fuji's price increase is not "double" but "double digits" as a percentage. As it turns out, the $7 roll mentioned above is going to cost you $8.40. Hardly the end of the world, given the price increases of other things, say like gasoline.

Facts are not that hard to check. Your readers are owed a duty of accuracy. Or so I was taught in J school. Do they not teach that anymore?

Massimo Marinucci
Massimo Marinucci like.author.displayName 1 Like

Oh give me a grand break! So, basically, we can pretty much count on everyone who appreciates photography as art, being relegated to purchase giants reproduction inkjets at Ikea for $150? Right. Guess what? You got it all backwards! Because of film becoming more expensive with fewer artists using it to produce art, that art will differentiate itself even more (and be A LOT more valuable), then the endless sea of Thomas Kincade-like mass produced digital/inkjet crap, which will ALWAYS be worthless. 

Matt Michand
Matt Michand

Steve, Steve, Steve, Steve. I think you need to do some fact checking.  Film may be declining but it's not dead, I can prove it, come to my house and look at all the film I have waiting to be burned through this month alone. I live in Austin, it's not that far of a drive, we have 3 stores in ATX that have film and development supplies for home development of film.

I hereby declare the death of op-ed pieces disguised as news.

dunne
dunne

geez, dude. just a week after your print edition runs a huge story on vinyl coming back.

James Anderson
James Anderson

The only thing well written here are the responses. 

Silversalts
Silversalts

OMG! I better throw away all my expensive cameras and buy crappy 4000.00 digital cameras that will be worth nothing in 3 years.Damm!!!! and the turntable and my tube amp and anything I use that sounds so good.Oh and yeah I guess i will stop buying 3 newspapers a day ...Find something real to write about or find a new job.

Silversalts
Silversalts

OMG...I better throw out the turntable as well!!!! because I love the compressed sound I get from anything digital.Horrible article from a medium that is truly dead...Now go find something real to write about.

NameisisFilmParadise
NameisisFilmParadise

I Hereby Declare You as Dead "Journalist"As all have said where did you get that 7$ film goes to 14$. http://www.fujifilm.com/news/n... digit means percentage you know this sign - "%". 7 to 14. Is one digit increase in monetary units or 3 digit increase in percentage. None are double digit, so where did you get this number? I smell crack smoking here.

Terry Christian
Terry Christian

"Stupid-high cost" of film?  Have you priced a new digital camera lately?  Film indeed costs, but only incrementally.

Neal
Neal

Could they mean as a percentage? 10%?

Dan Domme
Dan Domme

Hey, I hear that the price of oil paints is increasing.  Better sign the death certificate on painting as an art form.

And I'll tell Jack White, Dave Grohl and other award-winning musicians and audio engineers to stop using "dead art machines like analog tape recorders"  I'm sure they'll have no problem with digital recording systems just like I have no problem shooting a digital camera.  Oh wait, I sold off all my digital gear...

Digital is drudgery.  Film is forever.  I don't care how much a company raises the cost of its materials; you're always going to have artists that are going to choose to work in a particular medium if they find it offers them something they can't get otherwise.

John Berner
John Berner

Agreed, a tired subject with inaccurate sensationalism thrown in. The shortsightedness of this report is only overshadowed by the complete lack of understanding of the film shooting community. Its size and passion for film is much greater than you seem to understand.

BelieveInFilm
BelieveInFilm

Nobody shoots film because of cost. Nobody. People shoot film because they love it and find it a key part of their artistic process. 

This has not gone unnoticed and if you had bothered to do a few moments of research before turning in this blog post you'd see that not only do people continue to purchase and make beautiful things with film but much maligned companies like kodak value film.

http://1000words.kodak.com/tho...

I hate that this horrible article is going to get a bunch of page views which means your editor will reward you with more opportunities to produce more text containing factual errors. 

Nate Matos
Nate Matos

Not only is this article a boring re-hash of every other "FILM IS DEAD IT'S THE DIGITAL AGE" article from the last decade, it's wrong.

When Fuji says it is looking to raise the cost of it's film by double digits. It is talking percentages, not dollar signs. This means that $7 roll of 160S, is now a $9 roll of 160S. Considering both Fuji and Kodak have kept prices relatively stable over the last 10 years, while the cost of silver has skyrocketed this seems to be a logical step for them.

Also, when were analog tape recorders ever an art form?

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