In recent years, grainy photos taking days to develop have made a return and are possibly becoming more favourable than the omnipresent high-resolution iPhone.
On Queen’s campus, many students can be seen carrying around clunky disposable Kodaks—despite living in an era of advanced technology—that need to be taken into the photography shop to be developed.
Emily Miller, ConEd ’25, noted the use of disposable cameras to be more thoughtful as they capture special moments, generating more anticipation and excitement for their development than the instantaneous photos received from iPhone cameras.
“I only pull out my film camera for fun and special moments. It’s not carried around with me on my day-to-day basis taking a picture of the trees,” Miller said. “When you’re done with your camera you get the added excitement of how the photos are going to turn out after, and it’s super fun to go through them with your friends.”
Miller’s friends share the excitement for film photos over digital. Lower resolution and grain are two notable differences between digital photos and disposable cameras. Miller said she enjoys the “older” aesthetic of the photos that disposables offer and how they appear different compared to iPhone camera photos.
“When you say ‘oh, I took pictures of last night on my phone,’ no one cares. But then when you say ‘I got my film,’ you get a collection of people in the living room trying to look at these 27 photos you took of you and your friends over the course of maybe like a month.”
Hannah Grace Evans, ArtSci ’25, is in support of both film cameras and iPhone visuals. Evans spoke to the pros and cons of each option.
For Evans, film photos extend the enjoyment of the moment due to the wait for film to be developed and emphasize living in the moment since there are only 27 frames. To her, film photos are the best-filtered versions of the time you spent getting the shot.
“It’s fun. It makes you focus more and less at the same time of the film process. More on the moment and less on the result, which is a huge component of the memory being more important than the results,” Evans said.
However, according to Evans, film photos are an investment.
“It’s an indulgence. It’s a privilege. It’s not accessible anymore. They don’t produce enough film factories,” she said.
In contrast, Evans said phone cameras are constantly with you, and the quality is better.
“You carry your phone everywhere. Your phone is always on your person. You always have a built-in camera and supercomputer in your pocket. I think it is the most accessible kind of film for the general population,” she said.
For Evans, the downfall of phone cameras stems from a loss of sentimentality.
“In an iPhone, you take the photo, and the thought process is hindered by that because there is the capacity to take many photos in one go and have instantaneous results,” she said.
“It makes the process a little more apathetic because you can go back if you decide to filter through those deciding which ones you like the most, delete the other ones, or just never go back and never look at it ever again.”
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