[May 30 2016]
The latest installment of Calvin Klein‘s racy #MyCalvins campaign is hard to ignore, especially as the “upskirt” image of actress Klara Kristin sparked a social media firestorm last week. But amid charges of sexism and objectification, critics may be missing what is truly cutting-edge about the photo: namely, that it was captured on film, by rising photographer Harley Weir.
Weir, along with Jamie Hawkesworth, Colin Dodgson, Zoe Ghertner and others, is spurring a film renaissance in fashion photography. At a time when digital image-making is more pervasive than ever before — according to market research firm InfoTrends, 75 percent of photos are now taken with an iPhone — these so-called “digital natives” are opting to work with film.
“Fashion is rediscovering the possibility and the quality of film photography,” says Purple Magazine’s editor-in-chief Olivier Zahm, who dedicated his editor’s letter to the subject in the magazine’s most recent issue. “It is similar to what happened in music, with the resurgence of vinyl. Digital photography is sharper and cleaner; it captures a lot of information but it’s cold. Film gives you less information but it’s emotional information. And what do we care about, information or emotion? We care for the emotion. Film is very emotional. You can cry looking at a contact sheet, it is incredible. ” Half of Purple’s Spring 2016 issue was shot on film and Zahm says he is continuing to push both himself and the photographers he works with to embrace the analogue medium whenever possible.
“I think [the move away from digital photography] is part of a backlash to what’s been going on in our culture, which is now so digitally savvy,” says Jaime Perlman, creative director of British Vogue, another magazine that has embraced film photography, most recently in the May 2016 spread “Moonage Daydream,” lensed by Colin Dodgson. “There’s a purity to film. It’s refreshing.”