The return of film photography has been a long time coming. It all started paradoxically with the launch of photo-sharing app Instagram in 2010, stoking a collective fascination with the vintage film aesthetic with nostalgic frames and filters, such as Earlybird, 1997 and Apollo.
These days, it’s all about unfiltered and unposed authenticity but in the pursuit of this, many have turned to the original film camera, including celebrities such as the Hadid sisters, Kendall Jenner, Jacob Elordi, and Cole Sprouse. Gigi Hadid even has a page dedicated to her developed 35mm film called Gi’sposables, in which she shares candid, grainy photos of her A-List friends backstage at fashion shows or the Met Gala, notorious for their no phone policies.
The film photography trend exploded in popularity among the youth at the start of the pandemic last year—along with the Gen Z revival of the disco and y2k era. Many dug out their parents’ old Pentax and Olympus cameras to try their hand at this previously-dying art.
Chin Koon Yik, owner of photography lab and film camera store, Bang Bang Geng in Publika, even started an initiative called the Pandemic Time Capsule, in which he encouraged people to keep their film in a container to be developed once the pandemic is well and truly over. "When I set up my shop, I wanted to promote the love for photography. Right now, there are lots of people out of work and young graduates struggling to find jobs, I hope that they will be able to look back at these tough times one day and feel proud to have survived it," he explains.
In a virtual interview with Tatler, the hobby shop owner, whose film photography journey started with collecting vintage lens for his digital cameras, expresses his joy at seeing new enthusiasts join the dedicated community of hobbyists, amateurs and professionals in Malaysia.
Film photography is the most affordable and most accessible way of experiencing history. It is the traditional way of making pictures.— Chin Koon Yik