Film is not dead. I've known this for a while because I looked into it a while back. Today is nice news to hear that Kodak is re-introducing Ektachrome film and is manufacturing it in their Rochester plant.
Since 2009, film sales have been on the rise. Indeed, it is not unusual for me to find maybe 1 or 2 people per workshop who is what I would call a 'hybrid' photographer or 'flexitographer'. Someone who now plays with analog mediums as well as digital.
This is a massive turn around from the usual question I got asked about 10 years ago of 'have you gone digital yet'. The way I see it is that we have certain behavioural patterns to embracing new things and I'd like to draw comparisons to music listening mediums.
Each time something new comes out, there used to be a terrific rush to adopt it. Bring in the new and throw out the old. Back in the 80's we had this notion that one format had to replace all others. Cassette tape and vinyl records were promptly abandoned by many for CD. Roll forward to the present time, and we are now living in a multi-format society where it's more a case of lifestyle choice whether you listen to your music digitally or via vinyl. In fact, we live in an interesting time where CD is now mostly obsolete and yet vinyl is alive and well (albeit selling in very very small quantities compared to other digital mediums).
So with regards to music listening, we've gone past the honeymoon period of embracing digital and abandoning analog listening mediums and now enjoy both.
The same can be said for photography. We have gone past the question of 'have you gone digital yet?' to perhaps asking questions such as - what else is out there that I can play with? And the answer is that many photographers are now enjoying working with other mediums such as traditional black and white printing, black and white film, colodian wet plate process, palladium printing, and of course digital capture.
It's an interesting time to be a photographer, because we have all these mediums at our disposal and it's heartening to know that many of us are experimenting and playing with them.
In Kodak's case with Ektachrome, I feel this rebirth of the film is more to do with the requirements and needs of the motion movie industry to have film for a few reasons: firstly, there is the need to archive. Digital is not the most safest way to do this and the more secure way is to have hard-copy. Always. So there is a desperate need from the motion picture houses to have film stock available so they can archive and keep their films for posterity. Secondly there is still a demand from certain film directors to shoot on film. There has been an active campaign for film to stay around.
From my own perspective, I think film is here to stay. But there is a problem with keeping it here. Currently with vinyl album production, most of it is being done on old pressing plant machines. The infrastructure to keep vinyl albums alive is based on dedicated people maintaining these older presses. Similarly, I think the biggest challenge to keep film production going is to maintain the lines and processing plants that make them. Re-tooling when things break down is problematic for large-scale existing plants, but surprisingly, it is not a problem for some of the newer films that are coming from cottage industry businesses.
Anyway, the upshot is that any 'scaremongering' about film being end of line product is simply that now. Film still has a future now that things have settled down a lot and we as creative people have more options at our disposal. It's a good time to be a photographer.