Just a fortnight ago we had the Financial Times posting a video to Youtube with the message that "film never died" and now here's Ilford with more positive news that surely provides film photographers with real hope for the future.
At the end of last year, the company invited film photographers from around the world to take part in a survey to gain a better understanding of what makes them tick and the results, Ilford revealed today, were "inspiring".
Thousands of film users from more than 70 countries completed the survey, confirming Ilford's belief that support for the medium is growing and it's down to new users rather than increased spending by diehards. And darkroom printing also seems to be holding up well with younger photographers again keen to experience it.
Almost a third of respondents were under the are of 35 and 60% of them have been using film for less than five years. Around 84% said they had taught themselves how to use film with a little help from books and the Internet and just under half now develop and print their own pictures in a darkroom.
Some 98% shoot black and white, almost a third exclusively, with just 2% using colour film alone. Surprisingly, perhaps, more than eight out of ten use roll film with Lomo and Holga cameras often being the light-tight box of choice. You'll hear no more criticism of those cameras from me from now on!
On-line groups and forums, including Ilford's own website, were popular sources of product information and technical advice. For many, their interest began after receiving a film camera as a gift from family or a friend, showing the importance of passing old film cameras that might otherwise be gathering dust in a drawer on to digital photographers who're in a position to give them a new lease on life.
Canon, Nikon, Mamiya, and Pentax cameras all featured strongly in the survey with a large percentage bought on Ebay. Here are a few quotes from respondents explaining why they use film:
"I wanted to slow down and really think about what I was doing rather than just shoot 15 versions of the same shot to get it right. As I have grown into film, I also enjoy the craft aspects of it. Developing etc."
"The fact that there goes a lot more thinking in taking a photograph. Because of the 'limitation' of 36/12 pictures on a roll you think more about a shot you take. While with digital you just shoot."Steven Brierley, sales and marketing director at HARMAN technology/ILFORD PHOTO, said, “Thanks to the film users who took part in this survey, we have confirmed what we thought, which is that the recent growth in film sales can be attributed to the new users coming through.
"We are providing support to these new users and making it easier for them to find darkrooms should they wish to. It’s a year since we launched localdarkroom.com and we now have over 650 tutors and sharers in more than 60 countries around the world.
"Without the support and help from the film community who complete our surveys, this couldn’t have happened.”
So, if you've offered a film camera to someone, bought film or darkroom paper, passed on details of a local darkroom to Ilford for inclusion in their online database or given advice freely on a forum then you deserve a big pat on the back.
In return, I think we should all do the same for Ilford in gratitude for the company's efforts in keeping our chosen medium of analogue photography alive and kicking.
It's fantastic that, despite the ubiquity of digital imaging, Ilford has continued to provide such a wide range of top quality film and darkroom products unmatched by anyone else. Have a great 2015 Ilford!