Film (analogue) photographs do very well on Instagram. I think it’s partly because people enjoy the feeling of nostalgia the get from looking at them.
There’s always talk of the ‘soul’ of film – the colours, or something, that gives the photos something special.
Photos of vintage things also do well, whether taken with a digital or film camera. A photo of the vintage Canon AE-1 that I took on film is one of the most successful I’ve ever posted on Instagram. Successful in terms of likes and engagement.
I’m not sure “nostalgia” is the correct word for everyone. For people 30 years old and up, yes, maybe. They’re old enough to remember the film-only days. All their childhood photos were taken on film.
For people under that age though, especially the 15-25 demographic that are really into their film photography, I’m not quite sure what it is. Could it be the joy of discovering a more tangible form of photography in the digital age? Is it a retrospective fashion fad? Is it simply the Instagram effect? Who knows.
The phenomenon isn’t lost on retailers. There are stores now that specialise in vintage stuff. Not actual vintage-vintage, but faux vintage. They build cameras to resemble cameras of the past – but with none of the craftsmanship or longevity. They’ve created an entire industry from this stuff – faux vintage cameras, vinyl players, books, clothes and shoes.
You can even see its influence in the design aesthetics of the Fuji and Olympus mirrorless cameras. The Fujifilm X100 series became a runaway success due to the vintage film rangefinder era aesthetics.
Having said that, I find that a lot of the youth having dabbled in the faux stuff for a while become dissatisfied and seek out the real vintage stuff. There are countless stories of people that started off using one of those Fuji cameras, but went on to buy a vintage Canon, Olympus or Yashica film camera.
I get a number of them contacting me privately on Instagram with questions that I’m always very pleased to answer if I can.