Many extroverts may be struggling inside their self-quarantine time while introverts are living their best life indoors. The creative bunch stuck at home are still honing their skills, especially those passionate about film photography.
The revival of analog photography has proven that nothing really goes away. This goes along with fashion, movies and art, inspiration is drawn from history and always makes a comeback. Who would have thought bell bottom jeans or frosted tips would be back in style so soon. Besides the point, analog photography never really died. It was always there but now it has made a bigger comeback in today’s generation. Many people are appreciating the personal journey of shooting, developing and scanning their own photos.
The first film camera was invented by George Eastman in the late 1880s and called it “Kodak”, which has been around ever since. Film photography has been here for a long time and through many historic events that were wonderful and awful. Photography shares a pivotal role in understanding history, and gives us a piece of the past that we can share.
Due to the global pandemic we are all going through, things have become much slower. Film photography remains the same, it is a slow process and takes time to set up the frame, develop and scan.
Photojournalist and film enthusiast Jeff Smudde discusses how he stays busy in self-isolation with his film.
“Since I have a plethora of films to scan, this extra downtown has allowed me to revisit my old film, rescan it and make sure that the photos look good,” Smudde said. “The virus is helping me with scouting, looking for compositions and thinking of ideas on how to approach different conceptual ideas as well as my vernacular stuff.”
Smudde offered advice on how to utilize one's time in quarantine, “Use this time to look at your photos and revisit your old work, maybe build a small project. It's a good time to find opportunities to collaborate with other artists using the artwork you have already made and allowing everyone to kind of benefit from this.”
Although being in quarantine has restricted many photographers' capabilities to create visually compelling images with other people at the moment, that does not mean they are stopping their daily lives of shooting or going outside.
Berlin film photographer Lucas Garvey discusses his isolated days with his camera and how the pandemic has steered his photographic eye in a leisurely direction.
“When I'm out, there are very few people around. This gives me confidence and patience to frame things very slowly and meditively, not snapping and moving on but stopping for a length of time and almost breathing into the image,” Garvey said. “Going out alone for hours at a time and not having distractions has almost cleared the way for a completely different kind of seeing. I find that being 100% in the moment 100% of the time has allowed me the liberty to see beauty in things I had not seen before.”
Many photographers are now perceiving and finding beauty in their daily lives. Being stuck at home all day makes us do a double take on ordinary objects and see those things with a different perspective.
Garvey said, “I spent a day at the waterfront and I saw myself picking up my camera again and again just to capture subtle flickering reflections of the sunlight. I also find that I'm taking pictures to remember the moment more…”
Jin Lee is a photographer who has received the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and Illinois Arts Council grant. Lee teaches various photography courses at Illinois State University and was my black and white analog photography professor this spring until all of our classes became online.
“Although the B/W photography class no longer has access to the darkroom since the pandemic, students are continuing with their projects using tools they have at hand, including digital and phone cameras and sending film to processing labs,” Lee said. “The focus of the course remains on exploring the fundamentals of photography, the history of the medium and the documentary and expressive potentials of the medium, especially important in this time of significant changes. The class meets as a group on Zoom weekly to view each other’s work and to remain connected.”
With the switch to online classes, our photography class no longer has access to our sacred place where we can escape and lose track of time while creating something magical in the darkroom.
“Students are encouraged to continue shooting film for the remainder of the semester. When the university opens again, we plan to get together again in the lab one day to process film, make prints, and share pizza.”
Until campus reopens analog students will have to develop their own rolls at home or send off their film to a film lab due to covid-19 interrupting school darkrooms.
Ilford Photo Company made a COVID-19 statement on March 24th, “Now, more than ever we need a creative outlet and so we will also be working to provide you with educational and inspirational content on our @ilfordphoto social channels. Indeed, now might be the ideal time to process your backlog of film (at home or using the many labs that are still open for mail order services), learn how to set up and print in a home darkroom, organize or scan your negatives, create a zine or even start documenting this unique time in our history on your favorite ILFORD film.”
For those who do not have the proper chemicals or tools for their own at home developing station or scanner fret no more because many labs are still open for business during these secluded times. Mail order film lab services are taking precautionary measures to ensure their employees are staying safe.
Well admired analog processing business, Indie Film Lab located in Montgomery, Alabama gave a statement regarding the pandemic, “We are still processing, scanning and delivering your film while following our state and city’s COVID-19 recommendations to flatten the curve. We are taking every precaution necessary, our team’s health is our number one priority. Our team is still here to answer your questions, however all inquiries should be made via email only. We are so thankful for your patience during this time.”
There are tons of film labs still in business during this time, many film photographers would recommend Indie Film Lab, The Darkroom Gallery and Richard Photo Lab for their preferred film mail service.
Start getting creative, do a double take inside your home or set up your own home photo shoot. Utilize this time to create beautiful images that will be a part of history.