Picture this: A photographer comes into a store to order film … and has to wait because the supply is low.
Film photography has recently been making a comeback in the Quad Cities. And film stores have seen a rise in business since the start of the pandemic.
Film photography is such a popular hobby among young Quad-Citians – as well as longtime film buffs – that camera corner in davenport has trouble keeping film on hand.
Ted Doty, owner of Camera Corner, says many of his customers are young people discovering film for the first time.
“I think the younger generation likes to play with different things and wants to see and experience what was in the past,” he said.
Nostalgia, and the allure of something different, also play a part.
“It’s mechanical. It’s something they can put their hands on and actually play with. It’s not a digital aspect. It’s not the phone. It’s not a computer.,” he said. “It’s hard, It’s mentally … it’s physical.”
With a technology new to them, some young photographers are looking into the past.
“They like to replicate and give the illusion of days past you know back in the 1900s where you kind of had that rough kind of look of photography,” Doty said. “It wasn’t crisp, it wasn’t clean, it wasn’t perfect. It was real.”
When they’re not taking a view of the past, they’re looking into what’s new around them.
“The I-74 Bridge has been an iconic one we’ve seen,” Doty said. “People are photographing it with film of the bridge to kind of show the new process coming through.”
The surprises are also delightful for customers who bring their projectors and cameras to Eric A. Pohl at United Camera Repair in Rock Island.
Pohl sees from five to six projectors each week come in for repairs from all over the country. Now that people are stuck at home with the pandemic, they can review film and slides they want to have digitized.
“People actually are having time to sit down and go through grandma and grandpa’s slides and so forth,” Pohl said. “A lot of these projectors have failures because of age. They have nothing to do with how they’re taken care of for the classics to become brittle. So, you turn it on and the gear cracks or the belt snaps just from age.”
The oldest projector in the shop is hand-cranked and is a little more than a century old. He rebuilt it after it arrived in pieces in a box.
Pohl has seen a lot of devices from the 1950s and 1960s recently come in for repair.
Regardless of their vintage, Pohl fixes cameras and projectors that continue to link to both the past and a modern-day trend in the Quad Cities.