Three Ways We Can Keep Analog Photography Alive – PetaPixel


The Digital Age has well and truly established itself and has transformed the photography industry in ways that seemed impossible just a few decades ago. Over the last several years, analog photography has been put on life support, only keeping a pulse thanks to a determined community of film lovers.

If you are interested in this topic, you can have your say in this 5-minute survey that I have developed to learn more about the analog photography community.
Despite the dominance of digital photography, the short documentary Why We Still Love Film makes the case that analog photography has made a significant resurgence in recent years. YouTubers like Willem Verbeeck, for instance, boast hundreds of thousands of subscribers who are keen to learn about analog photography. Demand is on the incline.

There is a problem, however. Business owner and camera expert Don explains in the documentary the dilemma the analog camera industry faces:
“Demand has completely exceeded supply.”
There are finite quality analog camera models up for grabs and — as resilient as they are — it is a matter of time before they begin showing their age.
According to Why We Still Love Film, we seem to be in a pivotal moment. There is enough interest in analog photography to reinvigorate the industry and potentially keep it alive for future generations to enjoy. This process starts with innovation.
In 2004, around the time digital photography started gaining momentum, entrepreneur and author Chris Anderson published an article in Wired titled “The Long Tail.” It was later adapted into a bestselling book.
Anderson explains that in industries, the most popular products make up a majority of sales, while all other sales are made up of less popular niche products (see below). Thanks to improvements in distribution, communication, manufacturing, and online retail, unprecedented opportunities have opened up for niche markets and products.

It is now possible for the most specialized products, like analog cameras, to find its audience and vice versa. The popularity of products no longer has a monopoly on success, and although innovation is expensive, time-consuming, and — above all — risky, now is our chance to innovate.
In order to reduce the risk of wasted resources, innovators require information. By sharing ideas, knowledge, and opinions, innovators can develop products based on people’s needs and wants.
Researcher Clay Shirky has written about how technology has opened new channels to produce and share information at exponential speed online, a phenomenon he calls “cognitive surplus” in his book by the same name.
When taken together, Shirky says that “the world’s cognitive surplus is so large that small changes can have huge ramifications in aggregate.” In other words, all the knowledge we share online — comments, reviews, YouTube videos, etc. — can contribute to changes in the analog photography industry.
As most of us can attest, having an idea is one thing, but bringing it to fruition is something completely different. Whatever the project may be, having a single perspective can be detrimental to the process. The miracle of the internet means that we can find like-minded people who possibly live on the other side of the globe and collaborate to bring ideas to life.
Social scientist and bestselling author Adam Grant explains, “Even having a single ally is enough to dramatically increase your will to act. Find one person who believes in your vision and begin tackling the problem together.”
Whether we produce a YouTube channel, develop film, or manufacture new camera models, the future of the analog photography industry starts now with innovating new products, sharing information, and collaborating with like-minded people.
If you are interested in this topic, you can have your say in this 5-minute survey that I have developed to learn more about the analog photography community.
A massive thanks to the people who have responded so far. Once I have received enough responses, I will share findings in a future article so everyone can benefit and get innovating.

About the author: Benjamin Santamaria is a marketing and communications officer for YMCA Australia. He studied communication at university, focusing his postgraduate research on how young people interact and identify with podcast hosts. Ben has a keen interest in analog photography and aspires to contribute to the reinvigoration of the analog photography market.
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.
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