Is film a dying medium? In this article, we explore how the online series Negative Feedback has given new life to the art of film photography. Diving into a brief history of photography, followed by some thoughts on the series and the work being produced.
A Brief History of Photography
The first commercial photographic process was called Daguerreotype. First established as early as 1839, named after the inventor, Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre. Essentially, this was an image being captured onto a silvered copper plate.
Many years later, came the birth of 35mm film, introduced in 1913. However, this medium only become popular with the initial launch of the Leica camera about 10 years later. To this day, Leica is still one of the most established and widely used brands of film camera.
Fast-forward to the late 20th century, came the rise of Digital Photography. This process made shooting film somewhat redundant. It was now much easier to capture images and process them digitally than to go through the seemingly laborious task of getting your images developed. Digital photography had taken the industry by storm, being used by both professional and amateur photographers worldwide.
However, there were still a handful of people who stuck to film. Some regarded the process of shooting film as an essential aspect of the art form. There’s something about creating a physical image and going through the thoughtful stages that appealed to a niche audience.
Some argued that the limitations set by film enabled photographers to produce better images. I think there is a lot of truth to this concept. Film forces you to take more care with your images. Instead of firing away with high-digital shutter speeds, you’re made to slow down and put more thought into the outcome.
The recent YouTube channel, Negative Feedback, launched in early 2016. This is an ongoing series consisting of informational and entertaining videos about film photography. The show is hosted by George Muncey and filmed by Louis Bryant, who are both in their early twenties.
In my opinion, this is one of the best resources for young people looking to get into film photography. George mentions on his website “Although there are some great resources on YouTube, there weren’t many people who were as relatable – mainly being no one being a similar age to myself. You could find great lectures and informational videos from some incredibly knowledgeable guys, but not as many young people going out and having fun, especially making the videos look really nice.” This is totally reflective of what Negative Feedback represents and is something that was very much missing from the online video space.
One of my favourite aspects of the series is the attention to detail. Everything from the cinematography to the typography is amazing. The clean minimalist theme helps the audience focus on the subject, whilst being visually engaged. The consistency of the style makes the content feel professional, something that is key for building a successful brand.
The outstanding videography definitely compliments the unique quality of the content, as well as the photography itself. George often collaborates with either friends or sometimes other well-established film photographers. This gives the audience a chance to gain another perspective of the medium, as well as the photographer’s creative process.
George has mentioned that he prefers to take a more photo-journalist approach to photography, capturing life as he sees it.
One of his projects that really fascinated me was from his recent trip to Los Angeles. He noticed how the infamous Venice Beach was full of interesting characters; a mix of tourists and skaters from all walks of life.
George felt like nobody had depicted the place well enough, so he revisited the location several times over the course of a few days until he was content with the images. I think the photographs show a diverse cultural atmosphere, capturing both portraits and landscapes to give a real sense of place.
George’s style has continued to develop and is becoming more and more distinct as he progresses. The soft pastel colours mixed with unconventional framing makes for a unique and engaging aesthetic. It may sound boring but I enjoy his use of different format images, by not sticking to the ordinary aspect ratios it helps define his style.
Overall, I am looking forward to watching the progression of the channel and the body of work that’s produced along the way. The series feels like it has given new life to a somewhat fading medium, inspiring other young creatives to get involved with film photography.