Once upon a time, there was a thing called film


posted Friday, December 27, 2013 at 1:05 PM EDT


In BuzzFeed user Henry Goldman's short video for children, “Film Photography Explained to Modern Kids”, the narrator says, “The way you shared a photo of someone back then was you put it in their hands and they looked at it.” This wonderful sentiment permeates the whole video, which is designed to teach modern kids about film.

You remember film -- the stuff that came in little plastic tubes or metal tins, and which only gave you 24 or perhaps 36 chances to get a photo. I remember those days of holding a print in my hands as though they were only yesterday. Probably because in my strange world it was yesterday. We'd had a party, I took some photos and gave my friends prints of the occasion.

Sure I posted the images on Facebook too, but I still I took a couple of minutes to make a dozen 4x6-inch prints to share with everyone in the old fashioned, physical sense.

"Film Photography Explained to Modern Kids," by Henry Goldman

But the video is probably right, if perhaps a few years premature. A decade from now, film and its byproducts -- prints, photo albums, photo labs and photography galleries -- will, for most of us, be as long-forgotten as the twin blade razor or the floppy disc, even if it lives on as a niche product like vinyl records.

It seems inevitable, and here's why. Recently, I was shooting a theatrical rehearsal of a 1930s murder mystery. At one point in the show, the ingénue -- having discovered the body -- has to run to the phone to call the police. On her cue, the young actress saw the corpse, screamed and raced to the phone. She picked up the receiver... and then she froze. She looked at the director, and asked, “What do I do now?” He said, “You dial.”

"Dial?" she replied, confused. She had never even seen a rotary-dial phone in her short, sweet life. It will soon be that way with film, and perhaps with standalone cameras, too. If you're pining for the old days, watch the video above. It is enjoyable, and will give you few laughs and wry smiles. Then bookmark it to show to the grandkids in thirty years -- assuming that the Internet itself isn't a relic by then!