It seems like today’s photographs have to be crisp, clear, and stark to gain any prominence on social media. Seeing Instagram accounts run by bloggers and personalities alike show the minimalist aesthetic that has become everybody’s #goals. What’s important to remember is that there are so many different ways to take photos and many different devices on which to take those photos. Expired film photography is a prime example.
Film photography itself is a very unique experience. You have this intimacy with your photos that you otherwise wouldn’t get with an iPhone or DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex). To take photos on a film camera means that you need to be proactive and precise in how you shoot because you’re only allotted so many photographs on a single roll of film, minimizing the chances you have to take those few perfect shots.
When you shoot on film, it’s like playing the lottery because you don’t have the satisfaction of knowing how those photos have turned out before they’re developed, as we’ve become accustomed to. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, though. It’s thrilling and suspenseful to find out what kinds of cool things you managed to shoot while you were out taking pictures. It’s the rush that results from the unknown that gets film photographers excited to see the final product. It’s exhilarating to see what kinds of shots will result from their roll of film.
Once you’ve taken those pictures, it’s a process to get them developed. Most film photographers will develop them on their own in a dark room, but they can just as easily be developed for you at your local convenience store photo department.
A style of film photography that has erupted among film photography fanatics is to shoot with expired film. Expired? You might think that I’m joking. Film that’s been expired for 10 or 20 years is still usable. If you’re looking for a unique photo, it’s definitely worth a try. The photos that you get out of expired film tend to be a much grainier in quality than digital photos and have shifted color schemes. They give your photo personality. Expired film creates unique, one-of-a-kind shots.
Much of the effect of expired film has to do with the fact that film creates images based on chemical reactions that occur when the film is exposed to light for certain lengths of time. Specific chemicals, called silver halides, that exist within a roll of film are quite sensitive and will degrade in quality over time, causing the film to produce images that you wouldn’t necessarily expect.
What’s interesting about shooting with expired film is that you get to tell a modern story through an aged lens. The effect that this expired film may have on your final shots is something only a specific roll of film can convey. This style of photography is intertwined with the age of the millennial. We have a nostalgia for the past while also progressing into the future. What better way to combine interests than to take a photo on expired film and give that aged roll new and exciting meaning? We yearn for the past and have a retrospective outlook on life, so why not reflect that in our photography too? It’s similar to buying a vintage piece of clothing. It’s got its own story attached to it, but the person that buys it will give it new life and meaning.
Text by Delia Curtis
Photography by Yasmina Hilal