There’s been some concern over various online communities we use to talk to one another in light of possible purchases. Problems finding an online community for film photographers are nothing new.
Over 20 years ago, I can remember posting film photos on Deviantart and getting flamed for using film by the digital crowd. In particular I remember a guy who was a photographer for a museum who used a scan back on a large format camera, obviously common gear, who said that enjoying film photography was the same as licking birdshit off of sidewalks.
I always wondered where he came up with that oddly specific comparison.
On the other end of the scale, I can remember being belittled by the geezers on APUG for using a non-mechanical camera or not diluting Rodinal the way they thought I should. The forums were full of gate-keeping and condescension. There were gems of wisdom to be found, for sure, but the signal to noise ratio was far out of balance and I never went back.
I think if I had been looking for any external validation, I would have probably stepped away from photography again. I wonder how many film photographers did?
Other platforms are just as prone to problems. Facebook is probably more full of gatekeepers than any other site has been, never mind the rabid political environment over there leaking in to everything.
Instagram is a non-sequitur. People tell me there is a community, but I have never been able to find it. I think I’ve only had a few discussions with Eric (@conspiracy.of.cartographers) and Ribsy (@newclassicfilm) while on there. The other 90% has been pay for follower solicitations, cryptocurrency schemes, and NFT solicitations. Maybe I’m doing it wrong, I just haven’t been able to get much out of using the app.
Flickr used to be awesome. If I wanted to see what a particular emulsion looked like, I’d punch it in to Flickr and look at the results everyone else was getting. The only gripe I had back then was when I would punch a lens in to see the results people were getting with it only to be swamped with pictures of the lens itself. It’s pretty much crickets over there these days. Fewer and fewer people active and fewer and fewer images posted.
YouTube has promise, but requires a significant time investment. Making videos takes time. Watching them does as well, though to a far lesser degree. Sometimes you just want to read the info, get an answer, and move on. Videos of film road trips make me smile and inspire me in a way noting else does. It’s too bad the site is so white dude centered. We are missing out on so many other, diverse viewpoints that could be opening up entirely new aspects of the world to us all.
Twitter. Ah, bird app, I have so many feelings for you. Parts of you I want to love and nurture, other parts I want to set on fire. It’s only when that Venn diagram overlaps that I want to leave. I’ve received so much good advice on Twitter, commiserated with other photographers when problems arose, swapped stores about great shots, told jokes, and encouraged each other during the pandemic. It’s the best online film community I have ever found. The possibility of the billionaire takeover has encouraged racist trolls, misogynistic assholes, and rabid shitweasels of every stripe to surface and do nothing but cause problems. If this is the future, the signal to noise ratio is going the wrong way.
What’s the alternative? The best one is to make our own home, but that can get expensive and time consuming. There’s a local group that uses a Slack channel and that looks promising. I’m not sure how to fix this, but I don’t want us to lose what we have.