The PLM Report Card | Film Cameras:
Low Maintenance: B (nothing beats the convenience of an iPhone)
I went on vacation with my family last week, and I’ve made a promise to myself not to force anyone to look at my vacation pictures. Because is there anything worse than someone asking if you want to see pictures of her trip? It’s a rhetorical question, so once you’re asked it, you’re guaranteed to see about 200 swipes of phone pictures. (What’s worse– swipes of vacation pictures or swipes on Tinder? Probably vacation pictures.)
I’m having a hard time keeping my promise, though, because I recently got an instant camera and they are so much fun. Do you remember what it was like to actually develop a photo? Ah, the ancient relic we called the disposable camera, the black box whose secrets could only be revealed by the local drug store. Sigh. I’m not sure I want to go all the way back to that era, but the Polaroid experience perfectly splits the difference between film and digital. There’s some mystery, but not so much that you have to wait an hour to see anything. And once you do see something, it’s an image that fills you with nostalgia, even though whatever you captured is happening right now.
There’s no English word I know for that kind of nostalgia for the present, but Brazilian Portuguese has a word saudade that’s probably pretty close. It means a feeling of nostalgia and sadness for something that is lost, but at the same time not wanting that thing back because experiencing it again, now, wouldn’t be the same as it was before . I think saudade explains a bit what it’s like to be with your immediate family as a grown up. You’re nostalgic for the times when you were all little together, protected by your parents and never solo at the grocery store. And when you all get back together, you may revert back into your childhood ways just a bit, but those roles are now too small and awkward for the adult version of you, so new relationships and archetypes must be negotiated. There’s a sweetness in the new, of course, but I always have a little feeling of wanting to go back– just a little bit.
Anyway, I think a film camera captures that feeling and packs it all into a tiny credit-card-sized photo. It’s true, look at my vacation photos if you don’t believe me! (See what I did there? I broke my own oath and I’m only on the 4th paragraph). Blame it on the saudade.
The camera I have is a Fujifilm Instax Mini 90*, and I love it because it looks cool AF and also you can play around with the exposure a bit more compared to other models. The film is tiny, but that’s part of the fun. Plus, having limited exposures in a pod of film makes you think about your pictures more carefully and be a bit more in the moment compared to a point-and-tap phone camera. If you’d rather not shell out that much money for a camera (understandable) the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9* is a lot cheaper, but it looks a little more juvenile IMHO, and not as many features. It’s the same film though, so you’ll still get the saudade.
*Fujifilm is not paying me to write this blog– I bought this on my own dime. But if you end up taking the plunge on a film camera, buy through those links and you support me and my site!