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16th February 2023

An ode to film photography: Why is film photography back in fashion?

Since when was film better than digital photography? And why the sudden rise? We take a look at fashion’s meaning and love of film photography in the 21st century
An ode to film photography: Why is film photography back in fashion?
Photo: Dhara Patel @ The Mancunion

In 1925, the Leica I was introduced to the world, making it the first compact camera to use 35mm film. Fast forward almost 100 years later and compact film cameras are absolutely everywhere.

From students to professional photographers, everyone and anyone is finding a reason to use film cameras, now better known as point & shoot cameras. But the sudden rise now? Is it merely a fashion statement, an artistic piece, or a genuine love for film photography?

There are various reasons why film photography is back in fashion. To start with, using film cameras not only produces a stronger and richer image but additionally provides unmatched aesthetics that digital cameras simply can not produce. Each shot on a film camera is unique, reflecting the moment in every shot. DSLR however skims the surface of dimension, displacing the emotion and beauty often found in film.

This isn’t to say DSLR cameras are bad at their job, however. In fact, they are better, much better, producing crisper and clearer imagery. Yet, if you are someone who loves the concept of living in the moment, film automatically trumps DSLR.

I would say shooting in film photography can be likened to listening to your favourite artist on a vinyl record instead of Spotify. You can’t argue that listening to the beautiful jazz-funk melodies of Grover Street Washington Jr.’s saxophone on ‘Just the Two of Us’ would be better off on Spotify than on a vinyl record. Yet the atmosphere, emotion and serenity created on vinyl produces a whole new experience altogether.

Photo: Dhara Patel @ The Mancunion

Personally, the main reason that I use a film camera is due to its simplicity. Something that I have always hated, as a kid of Gen Z, is the fact that people have become so consumed with how they look and proceed to spend more time analysing, re-taking and editing their photos than they do capturing them.

That’s why film photography is the best style of photography to use. You are forced to live in the moment. You momentarily capture the occasion and then have to wait in excited anticipation to receive your film photos back. No editing, no self-criticism, one shot and that’s it.

Now, what has film photography got to do with fashion? Well, one of the most prominent examples of film photography’s prominence with fashion to come out of the 21st century is to do with the story of Places + Faces.

Places + Faces, a project by the duo Imran Ciesayand Solomon Boyede, sought to shoot unconventional images of locations and people that set them apart from the rest of the photographers. Starting off with DSLR photography, the pair managed to grow their Tumblr account to have something of a cult following, then transitioned to a now preferred 35mm film format.

Documenting the local music scenes in cities across the world, the two began to develop relationships with famous artists who in turn allowed them to snap them for their ongoing Places + Faces project. Over the years, the pair have managed to snap film photos of various artists such as A$AP Rocky, Stormzy, and even Kanye West.

Photo: Dhara Patel @ The Mancunion

Transitioning from DSLR photography to film photography was one thing, but using their film photography skills to take a step into fashion was a completely new thing for the duo. In order to raise awareness towards their Places + Faces project, the pair began to release runs of branded tees and hoodies.

Following the unprecedented success of their clothing release, the two began to sell more merchandise in order to fund their travelling and step into print, releasing zines and magazines. Building on this growing project, Places + Faces started to become recognised for their clothing, with their bumbags being a staple product in their collection.

Places + Faces is a classic example of the brilliant usage and navigation of film photography into the world of fashion in the 21st century. In order for the lifestyle brand to set itself apart from the rest, they became different by revisiting the past. In a world that is dominated by DSLR photography, there is always a special place for film photography to set yourself apart, and it’s one that I would highly recommend.

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