Jacob Ruth film

A photo shot by Jacob Ruth on a 35 mm film camera on the set of the Brother Moses “What Does It Take” music video in Brooklyn, New York. 

Some UA students have chosen to shy away from some modern, digital technologies and embrace the nostalgic appeal of retro pastimes such as film photography and vinyl record collecting.

Over the past five years, film photography company Ilford Photo has tracked a resurgence of film photography by taking a global survey of their customers. Out of the survey’s respondents, 57% have either returned to or are trying out the medium for the first time, 37.1% of those under 44 were completely new to film, according to the study done by Ilford Photo.

Cary Johnson, store manager at Bedford Camera & Video in Fayetteville, said he has seen an increase in film sales and processing in the last year.

“For whatever reason, there’s been a large population of younger generations that come into the store,” Johnson said. “Either for nostalgia or curiousity, they’re interested in film.”

Many of the younger people who come into the store typically ask for their photos to be both printed and processed onto CDs so they can be uploaded to social media, Johnson said.

Nicolette Gosselin, a freshman, said she is inspired to use disposable cameras because of influencers like David Dobrik, who has an Instagram account showcasing his film photography.

Creating her own second Instagram account featuring her disposable camera photos, Gosselin said she enjoys having a dedicated place to display her work.

“Digital photos are cool to have on your phone, but when you capture a memorable moment and get it developed, it’s a completely different experience,” Gosselin said.

Jacob Ruth, a senior majoring in studio arts, shoots the majority of his photos on film, developing his photos at either Bedford Camera & Video in Fayetteville, or Southbound Film Lab in Nashville, Tennessee.

“I love the fact that people are using disposables and realizing it’s not all about having expensive equipment,” Ruth said.

Ruth, who tries to release a film book each month, said he enjoys the way his friends and followers can interact with his photos physically through his books.

“I wanted to force myself to do a film book each month to push myself away from my computer screen, the digital world and the instant aspect of everything,” Ruth said.

Ruth said he prefers film photography over shooting on digital cameras because of the quality of scan he can get using film.

“I use film for the colors it captures, the look and just overall process,” Ruth said. “It makes me think and be more selective on what I shoot.”

The creative control, process and overall aesthetic of film photography serves as the main reason individuals choose film, according to Ilford Photo.

Ruth, who has photographed the band Judah and The Lion on tour and taken Brother Moses’s “Desperation Pop,” album cover photo, said he has fallen in love with the opportunities film photography has given him.

“The only reason I’m here is because God gave me the gift of having an eye to see things differently and be in the right place to capture the perfect moment,” Ruth said.

Embracing an alternative analog medium, vinyl records, Hayden Englebrecht, a sophomore majoring in biological engineering discovered her interest in music at an early age.

Collecting records since Christmas of 2018, Englebrecht has over 200 CDs, 40 records and countless Spotify playlists, she said.

“It’s the hunt that keeps me buying more records,” Englebrecht said. “I go to local spots and find the most random records, get them for a couple bucks and keep building my collection.”

Englebrecht, who finds the majority of her record collection at local stores like Block Street Records and Fayetteville’s Funky Flea Market, said she also enjoys the nostalgic atmosphere of record stores.

Record stores all feel very similar to Englebrecht, making each experience enjoyable, she said. “They’re laid out completely different, but I feel very at home in them.”

Englebrecht’s analog music collection spans from obscure records like Russian ballroom dancing and dueling banjos albums to well knowns artists like Kings of Leon and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Although she hopes to upgrade her current set-up, Englebrech enjoys the mobility of her orange Victrola Suitcase record player, she said. Containing bluetooth compatibility and a CD player, Englebrech chose her record player based on its versatility.

Collin Petigna, a sophomore majoring in graphic design, shoots his daily life on disposable cameras, using a 35 mm point and shoot camera and medium format camera when shooting for his required film photography classes.

“I signed up for a black and white film photography class using 35 mm cameras and fell in love with the entire process,” Petigna said.

Petigna said he appreciates how the disposable camera limits the amount of photos he can take, so he has to make each shot count.

“My friends and I will take disposable photos of smaller moments in our lives,” Petigna said. “We capture memories we’d otherwise forget about.”

For one of his photography classes, Petigna worked with individuals who are in the process of becoming U.S. citizens, taking their photos using a large format film camera.

“We were told to document a group of strangers we found interesting for the entire semester,” Petigna said. “Photography allows me to preserve these moments of time for the future.”

Raegan Holland is a staff reporter for The Arkansas Traveler.

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