Video Tries to Explain Film Photography to Modern Kids

It’s difficult to fathom, but there is massive segment of the population who remember nothing of film photography. The idea of not having your images instantly available for review and deletion, or having to go to a shop to have a roll of film developed, is as foreign as the floppy disk and the VHS.

BuzzFeed is trying to remedy this somewhat in the video above, which they have dubbed “Film Photography Explained to Modern Kids.”

The first commercially produced digital cameras arrived on the scene in 1990. And though it took a few years before a digital camera became a household item, it’s increasingly likely that many 18 year olds (you know, ‘adults’) have never laid a hand on a roll of film. At best, they’ve maybe used a disposable camera.


Of course, the video isn’t outrageously informative. The point is to introduce some of these modern kids to the concept of film in a funny way that will appeal to both those in the know and those outside of it.

“It used to be you could only take as many photos as you had room on this film stuff,” quips the narrator. “It was this dark, plastic-y tape that came in these black little tubes, and you couldn’t expose it to light… like Gizmo.”

It’s a satiric explanation of this strange and no-so-distant past of film photography that takes aim at everything from the idea that you couldn’t take a million photos of your lunch to how sharing a photo actually meant… you know… putting a print in your friend’s hand.

(via SLR Lounge)

Image credit: Nikon FM by AndysRollei

  • 写真家

    “It was this dark, plastic-y tape that came in these black little tubes, and you couldn’t expose it to light… like Gizmo.”

    If they are too young to know ‘t know what film is, it is unlikely they will know what Gizmo is either.

  • Matt

    Ya, should have went with vampires.

  • Ryan Napolitano

    Great Video… reminds me that I have a few rolls of E6 to develop tonight! Viva la Film!!

  • Anonymoused

    18 year-olds know fully well what film is. I’m sure they’ve used disposable cameras.
    16 and under, probably less so.

  • Jim

    Dropping film off at The Icon in Los Angeles! Love it!

  • punikol

    I cried! No, seriously, I cried a bit

  • wesawithappen

    Wish this was less “clever” and more informative for young people who may actually be interested in learning to shoot film, which is still readily available, albeit a bit pricey.

  • Gothamite

    Their vampires can go in the light too. They also sparkle.

  • ISO640

    Maybe it needs to be “clever” to grad their attention? There are tons of videos on YouTube explaining film photography… you have to capture their interest first.

  • Beatrix

    Film doesn’t look different – it was the ’80 and ’90. The world looked that way back then! (at least, that’s what I will tell my kids :-D )

  • wesawithappen

    The problem for me is it wasn’t. The narrator ran his snarky sense that no one with a smartphone could fathom what film or a printed photo might be into the ground. Talking down to people is a terrible way to hold their interest or to teach them something (I actually just endured a bit of this from my very elitist photographer cousin over Christmas). To be clear, I’m really not that exercised about this – It was just an observation. But I do encounter young or budding photographers who naturally show an interest in film (if only for the hipness factor, at first) and photo history.

  • Bill

    Yeah that guy did seem snide…I imagine pajama boy from obama’s health care ad doing the voice-over.

  • autumnbringer

    It’ll be different for everyone.
    Last time I used a film camera was likely 12 years ago and when I bought it, the people at the store (granted, it was a major electronics store, but let’s face it, that’s where a lot of people get their cameras) couldn’t tell me a thing about any of the film cameras as they had only used the digital ones. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if an 18 year old used a film camera, but it certainly wouldn’t be shocking if they hadn’t.

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  • markz

    some… not all, probably not even most. as Photographers we remember as photographers, obsessed with the process and the equipment. But the vast, overwhelming majority, of people are not and so do not remember what they never cared to know in the first place.
    So even if these kids had film cameras around when they where young if they were not interested in them they might not remember or even have been told “how it worked”,

    I turned up for the family Christmas gathering a few days back with both a digital (GX7) and a film (leica M2) camera and once again had to explain to younger relatives just exactly what film was and how it worked, and yes that did include 18~ ish nephews and nieces who I’m pretty sure I explained that to a few years back when they last saw one of my film cameras.

  • Joe Gottago

    Your uncle gets a lot of cars, these days – Miss Spamalot!


    Funny, Just 1/2 hour ago I explained the process to my 15 year old son on how B+W film works after he asked me “What’s a negative?”

  • MK

    I agree. I teach photography to teens – both digital and film – and this is seriously talking down to them. The kids in my class know what film is, and they are in my classes because they are excited about it. The local school actually had to EXPAND their darkroom because there were so many kids interested in taking the classes. Seriously, give the kids some credit. They would be insulted if they saw this.

  • Curtis Blair

    No waaay!? This is crazy.

  • photography!!!

    This is kind of condescending – I’m 16 and I spend about 15 hours a week in the darkroom. I have a lot of friends who shoot film, both seriously and hipstery-lomo types. Meh.

  • ripley

    I got into a discussion with some 11 year olds the other day, as you do, about cameras, when one girl chimed in “I have an Instagram account”. I said to her “Instagram is silly, if you want your photos to look analogue, use an analogue camera, don’t try to fake the effect with a digital photo.” She looked at me blankly for a while, and said “I have no idea what you just said.” So I had to explain the whole film camera thing to them – the fact we only had 24 shots, how we couldn’t expose it to light, how we couldn’t look at the photos right away etc etc. I have no idea if they actually understood what I was saying.

  • James

    If they’re taking a class on film photography you should know as well as they do, that they’re in the loop, and this video is for people who are not, the majority of which happen to have been born after the technology that replaces film was released.

  • Brad Maestas

    Film still comprises 90% of my photography. I’ll shoot it until I can’t anymore.