An Open Letter to Fuji…

Dear Fuji,

By now we’ve all heard about your announcement that you were ending some more of your film products.  We, the film community, have mulled it over and had our discussions among ourselves regarding this.  Just like we’ve had similar discussions in the past when you’ve decided that you were just offering too many types of film.

Because we’ve been through this many times in the past, your recent decision doesn’t come as a shock.  I would describe the collective feeling as one of “whatever” indifference.   We’ve seen this before, you’ve taken us on this ride many times in the past, most of us at some point in time have lost a favorite film stock or two of yours (mine were NPZ800 and NPS 160….sigh…).

So when an announcement like this comes, we all just kind of shrug, roll our eyes and say “what’s being killed off now?”  The question I’d like to ask is why do you keep playing this game with us?  Everyone knows that your long term goal is to cease all your traditional film lines and continue with the X-series cameras and Instax as your only attachment to photography.  So why do we have to do this slow crawl towards what we all know is the inevitable end?

We know that the majority of your profits are in all your numerous other holdings (According to this annual report from 2016, only 14% of Fuji’s business earnings come from Imaging products, and of that 14%,  the majority of that are Instax and X-series cameras, lenses and accessories)  You could pull the plug on the rest of your film product line tomorrow and not really feel a thing on your bottom line.   So why do you do it?  Why is the Fuji way, as Marc has so succinctly put it:

  • Increase Film  prices
  • Wonder why no one is buying film
  • cut stocks
  • repeat

When you cut stocks, naturally we get upset and complain, which pretty much falls on deaf ears right?  Any pleas from the community to save _______ (reader please fill in that blank with your favorite Fuji product) is all for not.  It’s a waste of time for us to get a change.org petition going, begging for you to save a stock,  we don’t have any real leverage against you.  Us boycotting and refusing to buy Fuji products (mostly film) is exactly what you want!

You might think differently,

but I was a big Fuji fan at one time.  This was back during a time when you had to twist my arm to shoot color film, and the only color 35mm film that I would use was Fuji Superia.  When I fully returned to shooting film in 2009, the first films that I shot to get back into the swing of things were NPH and NPS, and I even threw some Provia in the mix.  I loved those Fuji colors (and the pastelness of overexposed NPH which I still love BTW….), the way scenes looked on those films, those blues and greens….   I was only able to shoot a handful of NPZ800 before you discontinued it, but I quickly fell in love with it as well.  Now I have a couple of expired rolls remaining that I just can’t bring myself to shoot.

Then a few years ago when decided that you couldn’t be bothered with NPS160 anymore, I had to quit you Fuji.  You released a press statement saying that it was a difficult decision.   Gave us that same bull that the cancellation of this product was necessarily to keep the film photography division profitable.  That you were strongly committed to the future of film photography,  but your actions have always shown us otherwise.

Should we even talk about the instant films?  Sorry everyone, because I know those wounds are really fresh being that we just lost the last peel apart film stock you made, FP-100c not even a year ago.   There was something extra hurtful about losing pack film, probably because not only did we hear the same old song, but in this case, we had a company out there that had enough status and power in the industry that came to you to ask you to re-consider your decision.  Or if you didn’t truly want to be bothered with the film’s production, you could hand it over to them.  But you refused to entertain offers from The Impossible Project to sell your machinery to them so that they could continue making this film that was so important to many instant film photographers.  Why?  What was your reasoning behind that?   The company that brought Polaroid back from the dead, we could only imagine what they could have done with pack film…

We’d probably still have 3000b, they probably would have talked to the New 55 guys, and we could have peel apart 4×5 color and black and white again.

Now, we know how much stock you’ve put into Instax, but the least you could do (and I mean the absolute least…) is to at  least give us a serious camera to shoot the film with.  Something like maybe an updated FP-1.  Or is that asking for too much?  I’m probably asking for too much with that right?  I don’t know, I bet you could have a run away hit on your hands if you made a camera like that….

The GF670 was pretty popular (amongst those who could afford it), and it still draws quite a bit of interest on the used market.  I will say that was a bold move releasing a medium format camera, and a rangefinder on top of that, in 2008.  And you made that camera for six years, and there’s an even bigger demand for new film cameras now!

Now we have this ugliness going on between you and Polaroid Originals over the square formatted instant print, your Instax square vs PO’s vintage SX-70 & 600 formats.  I don’t know what to tell you Fuji about that.  Maybe all of this could have been avoided if conversations about packfilm hadn’t broken down?

I wonder….

Update on Ektachrome!

Earlier this year, Kodak announced that they were bringing their iconic slide film Ektachrome back from the dead.  I know, it seems this film thing isn’t going away anytime soon, and not only can you continue to sell films, but you can release new ones, or bring old ones back on the market!! Crazy….

We were hoping for a fall 2017 release, but according to this episode of the Kodakery, we should be expecting around a mid 2018 release, and to start we’ll only be getting 16mm movie film, and 35mm.  Which hey, they have to test this thing out, they just can’t release all sizes and formats on us at once, so we shouldn’t be too critical (which for us photographers can be extremely tough…) of Big Yellow…

But what we can do is when this hits the streets, go out and buy some rolls…

Listen here:

It’s okay to fail

There’s a special moment after the time you first pick up a camera and learn the basics. That moment you get “serious”, where you feel the urge, that drive to do “more” with your photography. That “more” can mean a lot of different things:

  • Putting on a show of your photos
  • Having your photos hang in an art gallery
  • Starting you own business in whatever genre of photography you feel drawn towards
  • Publishing a book
  • Starting a photo collective

Whatever that goal is, just know one thing, it is okay to fail. What matters is that we keep going, keep trying new ideas, new concepts. Also it helps to be honest with yourself about what hasn’t worked.

For example: I have pretty much come to the conclusion that I am NOT a 365 photographer. I’ve always admired photographers who have that dedication in them to shoot a photo each day, and I’ve wanted that type of dedication in my own photography. I’ve tried on three separate occasions to do the photo a day exercise, and I just don’t have it in me, I get bored and quit. Hell, I’ve even tried a 52 rolls project, where you shoot at least one roll per week. I honestly thought that I could make it at least a year, I mean it’s not that difficult to shoot a roll of film a week right?? I made it to week 24 before I quit.

Quitting has also made me abandoned what I thought were going to be long term projects. There was a time a few years ago when I thought that I was going to make a statement about the country in the vein of The Americans using a Holga. I put in roughly two and a half years of work, and even took this series to a portfolio review before I decided to hang it up. After staring at the work on my website for a year or so, I decided to make a zine with the photos, just for me.

[Front and Back cover] had planned to publish this as a series, every couple of years I would publish a book of photos. I still like the idea of serializing a body of work and I hope to do it sometime in the future
Continue reading “It’s okay to fail”

5 Reasons Why you should be shooting Polaroid Originals

Earlier this month, the company formerly called The Impossible Project announced a rebranding as Polaroid Originals.  Upon this announcement (which we anxiously awaited a week to hear), there were widely varied reactions to this news; some people thought that Impossible were abandoning the instant film community and were angry about it (Impossible bought the Polaroid name and rebranded, they didn’t disappear….).

Some asked what exactly this meant (As Polaroid Originals, TIP [The Impossible Project] would have now have household name recognition which would enable them to reach a broader audience of consumers, and we as photographers wouldn’t have to constantly explain what Impossible Project was to people on the street).

There was also wide spread disappointment that the announcement said nothing regarding the status of pack film / peel apart, which since F***’s discontinuation of FP-100c last year has left photographers who loved the look of that film in a lurch.

There was some excitement at the release of a new camera, the OneStep 2 (RTF is EXTREMELY excited about this), and also the reduction of price for what has been the best generation of film since Polaroid shut its doors back in 2008. Continue reading “5 Reasons Why you should be shooting Polaroid Originals”

Its 2017 people, can we stop talking about it yet?

If you find yourself online in a photography forum somewhere, anywhere these days  (and this happens in just about any of them, I belong to a group on Facebook where the conversations deal more with the art of photography and someone recently posted one of these articles), you might notice a particular opinionated discussion come up.  This discussion keeps coming up again and again and again and for some reason it won’t die (and because it won’t die, articles like this one pop up complaining about them):

Film VS Digital

Continue reading “Its 2017 people, can we stop talking about it yet?”

Return to Film, with Flash – Part One

I may be jumping the gun, but I think this an important tip of you’re trying to use modern flash triggers on not so modern film gear.

 

Non-TTL Hotshoes and Flashes/Wireless Triggers with TTL pins

Regular vs TTL hotshoes
Single point hotshoe without TTL on Minolta XE-7 [Left], TTL hotshoe with Nikon communication pinouts on Nikon F6 [Right]
Before the wizbang TTL flash technology we have now, camera to flash technology was super simple. There were just two contacts where the flash would touch the camera (in terms of communication). When the camera’s shutter would fire, the flash would fire at whatever setting the flash was set to by the photographer. There was no communication of ISO or f/stop setting to the flash, nothing. Continue reading “Return to Film, with Flash – Part One”

Wander Lust

Wanderlust

wändərˌləst/
noun
  1. a strong desire to travel.

We all have it.  Restfulness.  Sometimes you get tired of photographing the same streets, the same places, the same faces.  And you need to go, somewhere, anywhere else.  The camera is curiosity manifested in a physical form, how many times you have trespassed on private property, or maybe approached someone and asked if you could take a photograph of them?  Would you have done it if not for the reward of a photograph?  The camera makes us question, makes us explore, makes us confront.

One of most romantic enduring images of being a photographer is the road trip.  Just you, your camera, an airplane or a car, a destination, or maybe the journey is the destination.  Maybe you have the images in your mind that you want to make.  Maybe you just need to be in an unfamiliar place and the photographs you make are a reaction to those surroundings.  And you know how hard it is to explain to the non-photographers in your life why you just up and want to go somewhere randomly out of the clear blue.  Four years ago I was working on a project, and I had this urge to fly to Detroit to make photographs.  I remember telling my wife, and she asked me “Why did I want to go to Detroit?”  Mind you this is right after Detroit had filed for bankruptcy, and my response, which has no become my go to response when talking about photo trips to non-photographers was, “I don’t know, I gotta see what’s going on in _______ (fill in blank with destination)”

Nothing Stops Detroit

 

Have a f**king Leica, Will Travel…

After I calmed down my buyer’s remorse from buying that f**cking Leica, I wanted to go somewhere with it.  Personally I don’t think any camera has put the wanderlust in me like the Leica has.  Just throw it in a bag, with a bag full of film, and hit the road.  A few months after I bought it, I picked it up one day and it said to me “So, where are we off to?”  I replied, “I think we’re going to go to Hollywood”

3 stars hollywood or bust ;ucy marilyn michael elvis charlie

 

After developing the photos and resting at home for about 6 months, I got the itch again. I asked the Leica, “What do you think about going to Vegas?”

071816-001 071816-008 071816-0015

The funny thing is, I never considered going on a trip somewhere (with the sole purpose of making photographs) until I returned to film. I took a cruise with my wife back in 2009 and I took so many digital photos that it was such a chore for me to go through and edit them (I had the intentions on making a book….and I still do!).  I never had the urge to take a photo trip with a digital camera for that reason, dealing with the deluge of photographs when I returned home.  Traveling with film does have it’s challenges, mostly when you are flying somewhere, which would make a good future RTF discussion. But the perks far outweigh the challenges, which in my opinion is getting the film to and from where ever you are going, and remembering to bring enough film! I’m always of the opinion of there is not such a thing as bringing too much film (I personally love to fill a ziplock bag full of film)

Vegas: Before. #leica #ilfordfilm #definitelynotdallas #phototrippin

A photo posted by Laidric Stevenson (@18percentphotographer) on

20 rolls of sweet Delta 400 in that bag, I ended up shooting 17, and that was me trying to be conservative! Last thing that you want to do is run around on a trip looking for film (especially if where you are going doesn’t have any camera stores that sell film, but even if I were going to somewhere like LA, Chicago, NYC, places where you know you definitely can find film, you never know what prices you’ll run into, and if they’ll have the film that you’re looking for!)

As I write this, my Leica and I are currently preparing to make a trip to Washington DC, and I am excited at the potential for photographs that should result!

Prep work for a road trip. #buyfreshfilm

A photo posted by @returntofilm on

A Return To Film PSA: Buy Fresh

One thing that quickly becomes evident when you get serious with photography, is the expense of everything; buying new bodies, buying new lenses, etc., etc. etc. And one of the negatives things people like to bring up about film photography is the expense of buying film.   And unfortunately you have to pay to play, if you want to take photographs on film, you have to buy film. There’s no way around that. So to lessen the sting, we do things like buying expired film. Nothing wrong with that at all, it’s a great way to stretch your money to do the maximum amount of shooting.

But….

Unfortunately buying expired film does nothing for the sales of Kodak, Ilford, or that other company that sort of sells film when they feel like it. And when those companies don’t see sales, they don’t have any reason to keep producing the product for sale. Kodak may say they are committed to film photography, but they are also a business, and businesses have to make money from selling their product. If they aren’t making money, film stocks start disappearing. And with Kodak’s announcement of the return of Ektachrome, we can see that we have some control over the market. Kodak saw there was a demand for the product, and now they are working hard to bring that product back to the market.

So….

You might be reading this at home, asking yourself, what can you do? The answer is buy fresh film. As much of it as you’re able to, often as you can. Shoot that film, send it to labs (bonus points for a lab local to you) for them to process it, repeat.

Load up & get out shoot, your cameras miss you…

My go to film for family snapshots
My go to film for family snapshots