The Cameraventures team launched the „Save Analog Cameras“ campaign to look into the current status of film photography in the world and forecast its direction in the near future. Out of the over 4000 form entries that we received from all countries, 244 come from the German-speaking countries of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland (as of 04.07.2017). From these group, 211 entries were answered using our English-language form and the remaining 33 were from our German-language form. To our fellow German-speaking analog photographers, we are very thankful for your participation and contribution to our movement! If you haven’t yet filled up our form, you can do so here: https://cameraventures.com/save-analog-form.
After compiling these entries, we found these things interesting, most of which reflect the current analog photography situation in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland (better known as the DACH Region):
Film photography is led by the young, post-Wende crowd
The majority of film photographers in the region (31% of the English-language and 45% of the German- language results) are young adults between the age of 21 and 34. Most of whom witnessed firsthand or grew up shortly within and after the years of German reunification (1989-1995). In these years the closure of many film and camera companies (especially those based in the former GDR) and the rise of digitalization in cameras happened.
Klein aber Fein: Small offline communities make it alive
A general trend between the survey participants said that (regardless of age or geographical location) they generally keep a small network of enthusiast friends, ideally around 1-3 people, but some keep as many as 12 people as known acquaintances, colleagues, or club members. However, there are notable exceptions as well: some community creators in the region know around more than 20 or 50 people in person. Within these communities are specialized individuals who can volunteer themselves to fill in the needs of their fellow members and most especially to lone enthusiasts. These communities act as support systems for everyone where they can buy gear (through online biddings or community posts), to have their films developed and/or scanned, and where they can gain knowledge and inspiration to continue their passion for analog photography.
The German-speaking photographic industry is self-sustaining but hard-pressed
German, Austrian, and Swiss film photographers look first for local-based companies to buy their film and cameras, get their photos developed and scanned, and have their existing cameras repaired and refurbished. Naturally, photography brands born in the region like Leica, Zeiss, Sinar, ADOX, Rollei (DHW Werke), and the like have strong customer bases within the region. As a result, many of these companies have capitalized on the local market to a great extent, through a strong on- and offline presence. Camera markets selling refurbished and new cameras of all brands and formats – from Barnack Leicas to Praktika SLRs to Sinar view cameras – are available in almost every major city. Many participants have also noted the continuing support of drugstores and supermarket chains for selling film, despite only selling cheap 35mm film and offering a three-day developing/scanning service. However, some photographers based outside metropolitan regions worry that they are not being serviced well enough, or that it is uneconomical to pursue film photography in their region. In addition, many are concerned with the ever-decreasing number of repair shops in urban centers mostly staffed by aging people.
Film photography is personal
Almost everyone told us that they choose to develop, scan, and print their own photographs themselves because they would like to be more involved in their images than just sending them to a lab, especially for black-and-white photos. They also tend to own not more than 10 analog cameras, as they would like to rather use their gear to create photographs than to collect them.
The philosophy matters more than the archetype
The individual results differ in their archetype distribution, with most answers in the German-language version favoring the Gearhead and Collector archetypes, and the Artist being heavily identified in the English-language questionnaire. Similar to the global results, this might have been a result of our blunt Archetype explanation or the participant’s reluctance to fall under only one of the given Archetypes. Nevertheless, this shows that German, Austrian, and Swiss analog photographers are interested in the philosophy behind film photography more than the cameras they own or the films they use.
To know more about these results in details, you can click on the sub-entries below: