We’re exposing the recent revival of film photography and sharing tips on how to get started with the vintage art form.
Allure of Film
If you see someone carrying around an old, clunky camera, chances are it’s a film camera. The popularity of film photography has “been steadily climbing since about 2015,” said Peter Betancourt, co-owner of Palm Film Lab in Miami. “I would say it’s pandemic-induced,” Betancourt said about the most recent spike in purchases. “People had a lot of time on their hands to pick up some new hobbies.” In the digital age, there’s something alluring and nostalgic about having an archivable, tangible roll of film. “The fact that you can have a physical backup is very important, it’s very valuable,” he said.
Eric Purcell, a recent University of Miami graduate and film photographer, said he started using film when digital photography began to feel like work. Purcell was interested by “the imperfectness of it” and “all the practical disadvantages that were, for some reason, kind of fun.” Now, Eric keeps his camera by his side, always ready for when the perfect shot presents itself.
How to Get Started
Even with the fun, film photography often requires trial and error and can be frustrating at times. Betancourt recommends stopping into your local film shop, such as Palm Film Lab, for a crash course. “It’s just a combination of three things and how you balance them,” he said. “The lens opening, which is aperture, the shutter speed and the ISO.” Once you’ve mastered this balance and have taken a few photos, it’s time to develop them. It is possible to develop your pictures at home, but the tedious chemistry and expensive equipment involved is daunting for many. Both Betancourt and Purcell recommend having a professional do it for you. If you want to get into film, start now. The price of film cameras has skyrocketed, said Betancourt, “and as far as new cameras go, there is just nobody making them anymore.” Your best bet to find a working film camera is most likely eBay, a garage sale or your grandparents’ basement.
MIAMI FILM SHOPS
Palm Film Lab
2248 SW 57th Ave
Located just two miles north of campus, Palm Film lab gives a 10% discount to students.
Bellows Film Lab
2051 NW 2nd Ave
Bellows Film Lab offers a 20% student discount off development and scanning.
words_kathryn ford. photo_teagan polizzi. design_lauren mokhtarzadeh.
This article was published in Distraction’s summer 2021 print issue.