And then there are the fashion photographers who’ve stuck with film all along, like
, who has captured some of the most iconic portraits of the last 60 years with his own Rolleiflex camera. Does he care that photography has opened up its flood gates to the masses? “No,” he said
in 2011, on whether photographs hold less power now that there are so many across the world. “It makes the good ones even more powerful because it hasn’t taken away the good ones. The good ones are still there. Digital and Photoshop just moved mediocrity up a stop, that’s all. They’re still mediocre—they just look better.”
Digital photographers continue to multiply. But, in step, a new generation of young photographers who’ve grown up with iPhones and touch-of-a-finger editing apps are side-stepping those technologies in favor of working with film. It’s slower, it’s harder to use—but that’s precisely what an emerging demographic, one met with constant virtual stimulation and flooded with digital images, is looking for.
Take 23-year-old rising star Petra Collins, for example, who shoots the beauty of teenage girlhood solely with 35mm film—and refuses to retouch—for its authenticity. (Her 2015 photo shoot pictured here captures girls crying, no airbrushing allowed.) According to a 2015 survey by Ilford Photo, 30% of all film users are under age 35. This means given the choice to shoot some 10,000 photos without changing a memory card and instant gratification, they’re opting for analog’s 24 images per roll of film in equal numbers to the other two thirds of the population. No longer starry-eyed for sharpness, they’re swapping pixels for grain, following a slowed-down path to imperfect but real and emotional pictures that, alongside technological innovations, are every bit as renegade as the digital prints once were.