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One Buck Camera Glee

For just $1, I entered the world of faux-film photography. It was a whimsical purchase after seeing several retro type shots taken by the multi-talented Dianna Agron of Glee. She used it as an off-camera camera, revealing the intimate side of the cast members on and off the set. Like the TV show, the Hipstamatic app soon became a household name infiltrating its way into the fabric of our society. Not a day went by where my Facebook wall wasn't littered with photos that looked like they were taken 50 years ago. Still, despite being overused at the peak of its popularity, there was an authenticity to the images that ordinary phone snaps were lacking. What some may have initially written off as a fad appeared to have staying power.

This shift was first evident after New York Times photographer Damon Winter used the app to document war in Afghanistan.  Winter is a Pulitzer prize winning photographer whose work I've long admired for its creativity, and technical brilliance. Yet, when his photo story "A Grunt's Life" was awarded third place in the Pictures of the Year International contest, a flood of naysayers took to the Internet to bash the ethics of his camera selection.  In his thoughtful response, Winter said "I will always stand behind these photographs and am confident in my decision that this was the right tool to tell this particular story." In studying the series of twelve photos, it's difficult to envision them any other way. The quiet, introspective moments he captured coupled with vintage aesthetics make for a telling look at life behind enemy lines.

Recently, an Associated Press article asked "How much longer can film hold on?"   The number of users has plummeted dramatically, and declining sales numbers indicate impending doom. Ironically enough, the first Brownie sold in 1900 for just $1.  Over a century later, it appears we have come full circle.

Here are some images I've recently taken using faux-film. They were all shot in Hipstamatic with the iPhone 4, John S lens, and Ina's 1969 film option.  I'd like to hear your thoughts on this topic. 








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Reader Comments (2)

How much longer can film hold on? I dunno ... but the convenience of digital mixed with lack of technical know how will certainly mean there's going to be families losing their entire photographic history. No body prints pictures anymore, it's all digital files on disk. Everyone is taking thousands of pictures and videos, storing them on huge capacity USB drives (or CD/DVD's). Then that drive crashes - or those optical disks become out dated by 2nd or 3rd new generation of disk readers. All the cute computer pictures of Junior's first birthday, that kindergarten holiday concert, first band concert ... that game winning home-run video, once that drive crashes, those will just be memories.

Its inefficient, its expensive, but I do still use film from time to time. Film can always be reprinted, or re-scanned. People think I'm nuts for doing it ... well, I'll still have some of those pictures at least - enough to embarrass my boys after they grow up anyway.

How long can film hold on? I really hope film survives long enough that someone can come up with a universal solution for long term (generational) survivability of digital imagery.
July 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDave Shipman
There will always be - I believe anyhow - an audience for film. I've read at times about photographers who have clients who insist on film. And there are pros and amateurs alike who just love silver halide photography. There's an art school here in Philly still teaching darkroom skills, and if you search beyond the usual magazines, you'll see there are still many who have an interest in film.

I agree with Dave Shipman about the lack of printing. It seems senseless to take photos and only display them on screen. I don't print every photo I take, and that's the beauty of digital, you can delete the shots that don't make the cut, or at least save the ones you like but print only those you really like. I back up all my worthwhile photos on an external hard drive so if the internal drive fails, I'm covered. With cloud computing and faster internet connections, storing pics off-site is an even better option. In case of fire, theft, or flood, you know you're going to find your work is still available.

So, in a nutshell, I believe both digital and film will coexist well into the next decade or so. Whatever media thrills you, go ahead and indulge.
July 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrian
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