FEATURED STORY

Film is a Gift

BY JENNA HOUSTON

Banner image © Thilde Jensen

Using film to give time, money, and complex, careful portraits to marginalized individuals.

Film photography can be much more than a “hipster” trend or a far-fetched tribute to history. When artists shoot film, they often think more about the photos they are taking and slow down because of image quantity caps on each film roll. Film can become expensive quickly, so artists and companies must make careful decisions on who and what is photographed.

Certain populations are negated and stereotyped when photographed, such as the chronically ill, queer communities, and people of color. These groups are also denied the privilege of having time and money put into their portraits, often resulting in quick digital snapshots that fail to capture the essence of these individuals. These surface-level portraits of marginalized people not only hurt the little media representation they get, but also are deeply rooted in the history of exploitation through documentary photography. Who is taking the photographs and who are they for?

Often, photographers document a low-income neighborhood that is getting little attention, then show those photos in the very same galleries that are gentrifying and displacing the residents. While the intention is not malicious, photographers must take responsibility for the complexities of making and exhibiting their work. Beyond this, there are a