I’ve been chastised for using expired film – “you’re not supporting the film community” – and I guess that’s true in a limited sense. I don’t generally buy new film. At first it was for reasons of expense. I simply can’t afford new film. Expired, especially when purchased in bulk, is still much cheaper (though less cheaper than it used to be).
New film prices are mind-bogglingly expensive. Most of what I do is on the cheap for a very good reason – if I had to pay full price for new cameras and film, I could not afford to shoot. The $250 I plunked down on the Crown Graphic required a good deal of financial shuffling as well as the selling off of a few cameras.
More importantly, there are other important ways you can contribute to the film community apart from throwing money at it. Photography is an art, and while many (including myself) have commodified it, at its core photography is still an art.
That said, it’s true that if we don’t support the companies still making film, they will go out of business. It’s a bit of a conundrum. Paying $8 – $13 for a roll of b&w just doesn’t make financial sense for me when I’m bulk loading stuff I got for nearly free (or like ten cents a roll). Paying a lab to process my film is bonkers when I can do it for pennies on the dollar. The new Polaroid stuff is miles out of my reach.
For me, buying a Leica or Hasselblad is basically the same thing as buying a Bentley or a Rolls (or, let’s be honest, even a used Jeep).
I’m not complaining. I mean, sure, we all wish we were wealthier, I won’t deny that. But I am really enjoying photography on my terms. I’m able to feed myself, pay rent, travel and take photos. I’m not destitute, I’m not starving, but I can’t just go flinging cash around.
And if this means I’m not supporting the film community, I guess I’ll have to live with that – while sharing my photos and teaching/learning with other photographers, which, one might argue, is also supporting the film community.
‘Heavens Gray and Sunless’
Camera: Zorki 4 (1956)
Film: Ilford Pan F (x-07/1956); 6iso
Process: HC-110; 1+100; 60min
Near Alexandria, Nebraska