What One Year of Film Photography YouTube Taught Me
hen I started my film photography YouTube channel, the purpose was for me to have a reason to consistently make videos while consistently practicing photography, too. I learned so much more than I thought I would, including some of the major pitfalls of the film photography community.
To see some of the photos I took in the past year and to essentially listen to this article, watch the YouTube video below.
Let's first take a moment to appreciate the difference in lighting and backdrop from my first video of the channel in 2021 to my first video of 2022
By far, the best thing that came from starting a film photography YouTube channel in 2021 was the many friends I made across the globe. Yes, there has been a recent explosion in popularity for film photography (I'll admit it: I hopped on the bandwagon in 2020 as a digital native), but still, you have to go way out of your way to shoot film these days. I say that because even as an itty bitty channel, I've connected with dozens of others who are crazy enough to spend their money shooting film when it's truly easier in every way to shoot digital. I'm grateful for all you other crazies.
But we know better than most that we're not crazy, right? Film has a look that simply can't be beat and can't be 100% replicated with digital. More so than that, shooting film has a process that is so opposite of the way everything else in our modern society works. It slows you down at a time when everything else is speeding up. It's tangible when everything else is becoming virtual (ehem, *cough cough* NFTs *cough cough*). As someone who grew up shooting on digital point and shoots, it was an indescribable feeling to hold film negatives for the very first time. I became addicted to the process, and I sure am glad that I shared parts of my process and learnings along the way. While doing film photography YouTube and learning more from others doing the same, I noticed something: the vast majority of both creators and shooters on YouTube are white men.
The majority of people commenting on my videos were white men, and the majority of those I saw popping up on my YouTube feed were the same. It was exciting, but rare, to come across channels run by Black folks, women, and other minorities like myself (I would highly recommend checking out this video from Eclectachrome highlighting many of the women-run film photography YouTube channels). However, when I re-downloaded TikTok and the algorithm started feeding me photography content, that's when I really noticed this issue. There were hundreds of female, non-binary, Black, and POC photographers on TikTok who didn't even exist on YouTube. There are obvious advantages to sharing knowledge on YouTube instead of TikTok, but the already clear issue became clearer when comparing the platforms side-by-side.
To add to this, I've had the chance to hear about the demographic breakdown of a certain large format photographer YouTuber who happens to be based in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio, and he confirmed that about 99% of his viewers are white men. With his channel being above 10,000 subscribers, I had a realization: I don't want to grow that same audience for myself.
That's why in 2022, I'm trying a new approach: instead of just posting content that's helpful to other large format film photographers, I am going to mix in story-driven content that can be enjoyed by anyone in the world who enjoys a good story with great cinematography. Most likely, these will be essays that are helpful to others in their 20s. I still plan to post content that's specifically geared towards film photographers, but I'm hoping my audience will diversify by mixing in other content that still retains elements of film photography but isn't solely based on it.
Stick around with me in 2022 to be the first to see that content.