Hipster film

Dear Urban Outfitters,

Until I walked into your store this week, I had no idea that film was now cool. Here I was, stuck in the past, thinking that digital cameras were everywhere and paying $16 to get my film developed. Little did I know that I could walk into your store and buy a camera that was new in 60s. But I guess that’s vintage now, right?

I looked down and saw a Blackbird, and I was surprised. Cute, sure, made of plastic with a top view finder. At least it shoots 35mm film, which despite the failing film market can still be processed at your local Loblaws or drug store. For all the old fogies out there who never learned how to use digital or kept trying to throw away their memory cards after one use.

But then I turned around and I saw it. The little package I used to dread in my years of loading film. The 110 film. The film that required loading into a special canister in a darkroom. You have to actually break the plastic into pieces and pry out the film. The film that I always left for last when printing, because it required changing the mask and recalibrating our printer.


Now you have all these hipsters out there shooting 110 film on plastic toy cameras. But let me ask you one question: How are they going to get this film developed? At the time my dad’s photo store closed, we were the only people in the city who could print 110 film. Now there’s no one. Maybe in a bigger city you’d be lucky to run into someone who actually knows what 110 film is. I bet most of those kids who work at the Loblaws photo counter would have no idea.


I’m all for going back to our roots - I still love shooting the occasional roll of film. But everyone abandoned the film processors of the world years ago. And because of that, the industry is almost dead. Because people were all too happy to shoot a million digital pictures and never print a single one. Because now the average suburban family has as many dSLRs as children.

So you’re too late, Urban Outfitters. Even your loyal hipster following can’t revive film.

I still love your dresses though,



  • By Sebastian, August 28, 2009 @ 10:15 am

    There’s quite a lot of Holga-taken photography floating around at the moment… guess it’s the new Lomo thing or whatever. Some people like the leaky-light stuff!

    Don’t think it’s a problem to develop 110, you just might have to send it away to a mailorder place :)

  • By Hezabelle, August 28, 2009 @ 10:23 am

    I get the idea of it, and I really do enjoy vintage photography. I know a lot of people who shoot exclusively with expired film and on old cameras.

    I just don’t like the idea of all of these hipsters walking around taking pictures on 110 film just because it’s “vintage.” Since when does a clothing store sell cameras?

    And if they were going to try to revive the film industry, they should have tried a couple of years ago when they still had the chance.

    Although I know there are still independent print shops in Britain, and they actually make some money. It’s not that way in North America anymore.

  • By Sebastian, August 28, 2009 @ 10:26 am

    It is a bit quaint but… so be it! Fads aren’t entirely bad! They can bring about revolutions!

    The bad bit is when people uniformly like the photos simply because they look ‘neat’ — but that’s a problem already with digital photography. Have a brief look through Flickr to see the difference between great photographers and merely ‘interesting’ ones!

    But hey, who am I stop other people from appreciating art in their own way…

    Mail-order developers are quite common, even in the US — they don’t have a storefront, they just accept negatives by mail! Can find ‘em in the back of magazines, and online I imagine :)

  • By Jes, August 28, 2009 @ 10:45 am

    this will go the way of every other hipster fad…as soon as too many people start doing it, it will fade.

    The majority of these people have no idea what they’re doing, and are just doing it for the same reason they listen to half the music they do; because it adds to the image.

    *sigh* there’s my rant for the day.

    ps. urban outfitters? There’s not one in town, right?

  • By Sebastian, August 28, 2009 @ 10:52 am

    Just wanted to point out that even though it’s a fad, it doesn’t make it BAD.

    Harry Potter is a bad, bad piece of literature. So is Twilight. But it still gets kids to read… so it’s a good thing, right?

    Cameras get people to look at the world in a different way, and maybe even be artistic = good thing!

  • By Faebala, August 28, 2009 @ 12:06 pm

    Harry Potter is an excellent piece of literature.

    And fads are bad when you live in a town where you’re constantly surrounded by Scene kids, who would probably by that 110 and then go, “Oh wait - it’s film?” The only good that comes from fads, is making things accessible in a large mass to those who actually appreciate something - especially vintage things…

    For example - when I was a kid, I refused to wear any shoes but converse high tops (well, and jellies.. but that’s another story) and my mom had a hell of a time finding them. Because they were only available in thrift stores. Now? You can get them in every way shape and form, to the point you might not even recognize them as converse anymore. But those kids now wearing them in all these new fancy designs don’t appreciate where that came from. And they’ll stop wearing them once the new trend shows up.

    It’s important to actually have a passion or appreciation about something, and fads aren’t about that. They’re all about what’s in now and how your reputation will be while you’re wearing/using it.

  • By Faebala, August 28, 2009 @ 12:08 pm


    And by the way, I live in Pittsburgh which has a massive Urban Outfitters. If I go in there, I go straight to the clothes and try to avoid all the trendy little toys/gadgets along the wall. (Although I did find a mini USB accessible vacuum in there one time for my OCD, computer geek brother. Which was hilarious.)

  • By timoteo, August 29, 2009 @ 11:44 am

    Shooting with film is definitely becoming a lost art, if it already isn’t. I’ve definitely jumped on the dslr a few months ago. Deep down though, I wish I at least knew how to develop my own film and understand the finer intricacies of photography.

  • By Mike, September 1, 2009 @ 10:37 am

    If anyone wants to get “retro”, I have a Hasselblad, a Contax rangefinder, a Voightlander Leica copy and a Pentax SLR film camera. Oh yeah, and a fully functioning Graphlex 4×5 film camera. At least you’ll get some quality if you can get the film developed. By the way, I have it on good authority that all the grocery stores are getting out of the processing business.

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