Will Film Photography make a Comeback?


Do you think film photography will make a comeback?

Answer by: Swapan Mukherjeee, Photographer and Educator

Having started my career as a B&W film processor and printer, several years ago, film photography will always remain dear to me. However, I feel, the medium had many limitations, one of them being that you could only use one type of film, at a time.

In digital photography, one can switch between colour and black and white, as well as adjust the contrast by pressing a few buttons. The instant replay of images is a great boon to digital photography, whereas one had to be extra careful before pressing the shutter button, when using film. One had to also wait for long periods to see the results, from hours on end—if you had your darkroom—to multiple days.

With the advent of sophisticated imaging software, it’s not only contrast that can be altered, but a myriad of other effects like brightness, tonal changes, colour, and sharpness, can also be changed. Even the best B&W print of an original negative can be improved by scanning the negative to create a digital file, which can then be digitally worked upon, before making a print. Having printed my own pictures, since the analogue days, this possibility is a tremendous advancement. Moreover, the ease of adding or removing items in an image, after it has been shot, gives complete freedom to one’s creative expression. For someone like me, who was an avid painter and sketcher, before discovering film photography, digital photography has once again, made me an artist.

While film photography has been a strong disciplinarian, digital photography has made things very easy for everyone. Even a few notable photographers, who came through the disciplined regime of film photography, have benefited. They can now take their creativity beyond the limitations of film, because they have the technology.

Hence, I don’t think film photography will ever come back as before. But, it can be used for esoteric pursuits by a few, or for academic purposes, or as an alternative art form.