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Going analog in a digital world -Analog vs. digital

Updated: May 16

A few things to keep in mind before offering analog photography services:

analogue photo scan of double exposure

In today's digital world, photography has become more accessible than ever before, thanks to the rise of smartphones and affordable digital cameras. However, despite the availability of 100-megapixel smartphones and affordable digital cameras with wifi, 4K video resolution, and AI focus, film photography has been experiencing a revival in recent years, not just amongst artistic or hobbyist photographers but also amongst fashion, wedding, and portrait photographers.

One of the main reasons for this is undeniably the unique aesthetic it produces. Analog film has a certain look and feel that is difficult to replicate digitally. The film grain, color palette, and contrast of film can produce a timeless look that many photographers find appealing. Film, furthermore, has a higher dynamic range than digital sensors, meaning it can capture more detail in highlights and shadows. This can be especially useful in high-contrast scenes where digital sensors may struggle to capture all the detail.

But is it all worth the high costs and slow turnaround time?

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you want to offer analog photography services:

#1 - Availability of film.

Film, particularly 35mm color film, has become in high demand in recent years. While a decade ago Kodak declared bankruptcy and film was thought to be dead as a doornail , the grainy film look is currently undergoing a renaissance. While there is a vast availability of analog cameras and lenses, due to a rise in demand and delays in the supply chain, getting hold of film, particularly 35mm color film, is not so easy. Analog photography stores have noted that, in recent times, Kodak has only sent them one or two types of color film at a time, as opposed to the customary supply of eight, and the types of film that arrive are unexpected. As a result, prices of 35mm color film have seen an astronomical increase in recent years.

Taking these points into account, I would recommend that you familiarize yourself with the availability of 35mm film in your local area before making the transition.

Have a look at which stores or online sellers have film at hand and perhaps visit in person or send an email to ask about the typical stock availability.

Although currently in high demand, the future of analog photography is somewhat uncertain.

Keep in mind that while analog photography might never actually be dead as a doornail, there is a possibility that geopolitical tensions and a changing climate will put further strain on the supply chain of film manufacturers in the future.

#2 - Availability of film labs:

Processing film is an essential step in analog photography. It involves developing the film, which chemically turns the exposed silver halides into metallic silver and makes the image visible. Whilst many photographers prefer to process their film at home, given that this is the more cost effective option and furthermore gives them creative control over the process, given the fact that processing film at home takes a long time to learn and requires a further investment in accessories, it is recommendable to beginners in analog photography to develop their film at professional film labs, at least in the initial period.

Before you start shooting, I would therefore recommend that you check if you have a labotratory in your local area and review whether their prices and turnaround times are suitable for your photography services.

#3 - Availability of analog camara repair services

Analog cameras are delicate pieces of machinery that require careful handling. Unlike digital cameras, they have moving parts that can wear out or break over time. For example, the shutter mechanism is an essential component of an analog camera that can easily become damaged if the camera is dropped or mishandled. Other components, such as the film advance mechanism or the focusing mechanism, can also become damaged with regular use or misuse.

In addition to accidental damage, analog cameras can also suffer from general wear and tear. Exposure to moisture, dust, or extreme temperatures can cause damage to the camera's internal components, leading to malfunctions or even complete failure. Some analog cameras also have electronic components, such as light meters or autofocus systems, that can fail over time due to aging components or damage.

When shooting analog photography at a professional level, it is therefore very important to have a trustworthy analog camara repair shop nearby in order to avoid having to cancel your shoots due to unexpected camara failures.

Fixing analog camera issues can take quite a bit of time. If the analog photography services that you offer are of the type with unflexible shooting dates, such as wedding photography or on location shoots, you might want to consider investing in a second camara body to avoid losing clients over unexpected camara system failures.

hands hold film negative

In conclusion, analog film may not be as convenient, versatile and cost effective as as digital photography.

Those photographers who decide to continue using film photography despite these countless disadvantages do so because they absolutely fall in love with the timeless aesthetic it produces and also the unique creative process: Shooting on film requires a more deliberate and thoughtful approach to photography. Because each shot is limited by the number of frames on a roll of film, photographers are forced to be more mindful of their composition, exposure, and timing.

This can lead to more intentional and meaningful images and help photographers to improve their composition skills overall. And whilst it initially might not be a particularly lucrative option- in the long run analog photography might help you in the creation of a visual identity and to set you apart from other photographers offering similar services.

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