An appreciative photo essay

by maxfield smith & Alec Singer


For more than a century, 35-millimeter film has been the go-to medium for motion pictures and Kodak moments alike. Its compact size, versatility, and reliability have made it the standard for photographers of all types, amateur to professional. It’s what was loaded in the disposable cameras of our youth once upon a time, capturing Disneyland vacations and Christmas mornings, flashes burning our retina, crystalizing our joy like time capsules to be decoded years later in the form of “I remember this!” and “Jesus what was I wearing?!” 

Over the last 20 years, 35 millimeter has had a rough go of it. The digital age came around and the public said goodbye to one-hour film labs, and can you blame us? You can’t beat the instant gratification of shooting a thousand shots and seeing them right then and there. The mentality was, ‘Fuck an hour photo I need results.” Fair enough. Film was tossed aside by the world like an uncaring ex, and that sort of heartbreak almost killed our old photographic friend in a way reminiscent of video killing the radio star. 

But film refused to die. 

Film survived, nestled deep in the hearts and minds of old-fashioned folks who say, “There’s just something about it…” These folks continued to shoot on film, learning from the old masters, saving film developing recipes, buying cameras from swap meets, chatting it up in online forums, each shutter click acting as a breath of air into the lungs of photography’s ol’ faithful. 

On 35-millimeters’ deathbed, as companies like Kodak and Fuji started cutting production and tossing recipe’s, film was rebirthed as “vintage.” Companies and labs are popping up left and right peeping new interest in the neglected medium. Even darkroom equipment is being sold brand spankin’ new. There are even apps for people who want that quote-unquote film aesthetic on their insta-photos (say cheese, posers). 

The following is a collection of special or sentimental photographs by Maxfield Smith and Alec Singer, meant as a show of appreciation to the chemical beauty that is emulsion. Film was there for us through the good and bad, when we needed it and when we didn’t. It captured the parties and the break-ups, the sadness and the scenery, and for that we say thank you.


“Beyond aesthetics and gear, film photographs hold a special place in my life for capturing a hidden narrative. “ - Alec Singer

“I always have liked the causality of 35mm. It’s there all of a sudden. For better or for worse. On goddamn celluloid.” – Maxfield Smith

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