For the average family, a digital camera has become an essential item to record special moments throughout their lives together. Photography has drastically changed over the last few decades, and many of us who still remember the days of traditional film cameras that had to have pictures developed at the local pharmacy might be amazed by how quickly digital cameras took the stage.
And there’s a reason why: compared to traditional photography, digital photographs are easier to print out, sometimes off much higher resolution and photo quality, and can store more pictures than their traditional film camera ancestors could.
Still, there are many photographers, both amateur and professional, who haven’t abandoned traditional film photography or old-fashioned cameras. For them, the simplicity of the cameras and the photos, and the greater care it takes to develop the pictures, makes the process more therapeutic and artful. Particularly for photographers who still use their own darkrooms to develop their photos, traditional film cameras are a hobby that they would never give up for the relative ease of digital cameras.
Regardless of how much technology advances, there will always be people who still appreciate the simplicity of yesterday’s methods.
Using a traditional film camera, especially varieties that are many decades old, requires much more patience, diligence and care, especially when developing your own pictures. And for many photo enthusiasts who learned their craft with older equipment, the comfort of a familiar camera and the process of developing the film themselves can be therapeutic. Just as many people who own a dishwasher still wash dishes by hand because they find it relaxing or meditative, developing your own photos can be a very unique and calming experience.
And the fact that not just anyone can do it, and that it is a skill that must be developed with practice, makes it that much more rewarding.
Interestingly enough, there are still lots of families who go to amusement parks and pay to have their photos taken in an “old-fashioned” manner, with grainy black-and-white prints for novelty and fun. They even sometimes go so far as to dress in clothes from the nineteenth century to make it look more authentic. Ironically, though, most of these novelty old-fashioned photos are taken with modern digital cameras, then altered to appear authentically antiquated.
Understanding why some families find it fun to get their pictures taken in an old-fashioned manner can help you understand why some enthusiasts love collecting antique photo equipment and using the genuine, original camera to take their own old-fashioned pictures. Photography was one of the greatest innovations in human history, and being able to own a piece of that history is an important hobby for many antique collectors and photographers.
So the next time you think that digital cameras have made old-fashioned film photography obsolete and unnecessary, consider the many hobbyists and photographers who still take great pleasure in using and collecting traditional equipment. And if you’re an aspiring photographer yourself, you might want to try ditching the digital camera for a few weeks and have an old pro teach you a thing or two about film and darkrooms.
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Paul R Turner