I follow a bunch of film-photography groups on Facebook. I’m regularly blown away by people who say unkind things in response to posts there. Film photographers share their images, or ask earnest questions, or write about something that excites and interests them, and jerks come out of the woodwork to criticize them for it. Sometimes, unfortunately, I see a little of this pop up in the comments on this blog. The comments all boil down to “If you don’t believe and practice like I do, you are clearly an idiot.”
Lately it’s color negative film that is in some of the jerks’ crosshairs. We all know that prices have absolutely skyrocketed over the last year. The week before Christmas I was in Chicago, and visited Central Camera. Check out their hair-raising prices for consumer color films.
I see jerks on Facebook telling people who happily shoot these films that they are idiots for spending the money.
Well, I’m spending the money. I’m able to afford these films, and I want to shoot them. I am hardly an idiot.
I can often buy Fujifilm color film in stores near my home. Meijer, a big-box store, sometimes has three-packs of Fujicolor 200 for $18.99. I buy it every time I find it there. They have a place on the shelf for Superia X-tra 400 three-packs for $21.99, but it’s always out of stock.
Once in a while, CVS, a US pharmacy chain, has Superia X-tra 400 three-packs for $29.99. That’s a little harder for me to swallow, but ISO 400 color film is useful on gray days and so I’ve bought some there a time or two.
Of course I miss buying Fujicolor 200 at three bucks in a roll and Superia X-tra 400 at four bucks a roll. Of course I think current prices are way too high. Of course I hope film prices become reasonable again soon. And of course I feel for people who want to shoot these films but can’t afford them.
There are a number of likely causes for skyrocketing film prices. Supply and demand. Inflation. Economies-of-scale problems. Raw material availability. Supply-chain issues. Good old-fashioned profiteering. Welcome to this sick, sad world. There’s not much we can do about any of this except choose whether to participate, and hope that all of this doesn’t kill color film, or film in general.
But when we are unkind to fellow film photographers for their choices, it makes this community unwelcoming and erodes the joy we experience in it. To the jerks: cut it out.