Quote Originally Posted by batwister View Post
As much as we celebrate expressive photography, we can't deny that nostalgia defines this medium and will always be the overriding power that the billions of images made in the last 180+ years hold for most people. Think of any photograph and you think of the past. That we continue to look for the past in the present is a habit developed, largely, from looking at photographs. The objects we might see in a family picture - "I wonder where that old lamp is?" - we grab the lamp from the attic and put it on display. More importantly, as photographers, is representation and the modernity we often omit from the frame deeming it 'banal', 'boring', 'clinical' and 'ugly' - words I see time and time again on this forum and words I've used myself. This is a condition that people who shoot film suffer from and digitalists, largely, do not. If there was to be some serious research carried out using images on Flickr there would undoubtedly be a massive correlation between 'film' tags and a lack of reference to modernity in the images. One of the reasons for this, other than the fact many of these shooters actively look for old cars, buildings, 70s wallpaper etc. is that a sum of the photographs will be romantic landscapes. I'm convinced the reason so many film hobbyists turn to the landscape to produce expressive work, has less to do with tonality/dynamic range/detail and more that in this environment their habitual searching for nostalgia can be switched off. That denial of the reality of encroaching modernity can feel like discipline in itself and discipline is an important part of artmaking - a subconscious connection is made. This fuels further detachment and cynicism about the modern world. Many practitioners (including myself at times) seem to be on a delusional spiritual and environmental crusade. Believe it or not, not all landscape photographers are city hating hermits! Again, I believe it's part of this condition we develop the minute we load our cameras with film. An aversion to the visual reality of the present. "Bring back Kodachrome!" really means "bring back my youth!" or at least a time they now perceive as being better, even if they weren't around!
I'm a film user and I disagree; although I do take your point that some photographers, analogue and digital, have a penchant for the past, but I don't see this as an exclusive trait of film users. Do you also think painters, sketchers and other visual artists are guilty of unhealthy nostalgia? How about iPhone users with their Instagrams?

I don't think I seek out nostalgia, although I do often omit modern or artificial elements from my images, but often that's not the point of the images I'm making. My most recent effort is about some gasometers in my home town;distinctive features of the town's landscape. Their urban context necessitates inclusion of modern elements; I'm not afraid to do this. The gasometers are over 100 years old and under threat of demolition; I'm making a pictorial and (hopefully) aesthetically interesting record of them. I've also made pictures of an abandoned and now demolished industrial estate. I want to record my town's disappearing heritage because when its gone, I won't be able to photograph these things. Tomorrow they'll be nostalgic images; today they're the visual reality of the present. They're not pretty pictures, but i hope they're interesting ones.

Quote Originally Posted by batwister View Post
If we're trying to keep film alive, why do we continue to pile on the dust? We need to learn to make reference to this century just a little bit more, as I feel concern with the past, whether it's the things we photograph or the visual language/style/overuse of sepia, is going a long way (in the mind of a fatalist) to killing film. From what I've observed and from the frequent comments uttered by those who know I shoot film or see me with my camera, a concern with the past is what turns people off film. It's simply anorakia to them and basically socially questionable. Young people in particular, who have no sentiment for the smells (which are strongly linked to memory - nostalgia) are being turned off film because of its association with nostalgia anoraks. Young people are more concerned with the future and this mindset is antipathetic.

In essence, film isn't the problem, it's the unattractive curiosities of the people who shoot it.
Actually, I get the impression that film is seen as cool and hip by some young people; witness the Holga craze which represents the modern face of pictorialism and is the antithesis of the ultra-sharp, ultra-clean, airbrushed and photoshopped images that are shoved in our faces today. Some I've talked to see film as 'real' photography; done in a darkroom and a developing tank. I think you do young photographers a disservice by stereotyping them as uncaring of the past, and by stereotyping other film photographers as unremitting nostalgia freaks. Would you watch a child who's seeing, hearing and smelling a working steam train and call his/her 'nostalgia' socially questionable? Sure we can't live in the past, but a knowledge of the past helps us understand the present.

Right, I'm off to develop an unhealthily nostalgic roll of FP4+.