Capewell: Photos fade as digital develops

Last weekend I was going to do something neither I, nor anyone I know, has done in a while: I was going to get photos developed.

Alright, it isn't the most earth-shattering endeavor, but it really had been a while since I had dropped off rolls of film and eagerly awaited the day or two it took for the photos to process.

Like most college students, I had traded 35mm and disposable film cameras that were so necessary to document important life events a few years ago for an instantly gratifying digital model with more space for pictures than 100 rolls of conventional film. One look at a Facebook page is testament to this - as digital cameras become cheaper and more accessible, people can freely record even the most mundane days of their lives, delete the unflattering pictures (or even better, keep them) and quickly upload and share them with the world.

But this year, I took my film camera - still loaded with a roll of Kodak circa 2005 - on a trip where I feared my fancier digital one would get lost. I had brought the finished roll to school with me this semester, hoping to eventually get it developed.

Upon going to Wegmans instead of finding a place to drop off film, however, I was met with a sign that stated the photo center had recently closed due to lack of business. Aside from being totally bummed that I would have to wait longer to find out what I had taken pictures of, I felt a pang of nostalgia for the days when everyone got photos developed.

Is this the death of film photography? As I said earlier, digital cameras allow us to take exponentially more photos and store or share them easily on computers. Though the development of technology from film to digital mediums was probably inevitable, I never thought that film would become so obsolete that developing centers, like the one at Wegmans, would cease to exist.

And personally, I think we have reason to keep developing photos. Maybe I'm overly sentimental, but there's something to be said about excitedly tearing open a package of freshly developed pictures and reliving the moments as you flip through them.

Sure, you can put digital pictures on a Web site or a slideshow, but it's not the same as arranging real photos in an album to actually hold in your hands and look through over and over again. With film, the guessing and the waiting that comes with developing photos make the final product more worthwhile. Film recreates tangible memories in a way that digital pictures can't always do.

Hopefully in the future we won't have to describe film and photo centers the way adults today speak of music records, eight tracks or more recently, videotapes: objects that were once cornerstones of our collective experience that have faded away into obscurity.

Jill Capewell is a junior English major who's still going to upload those pics from last night's party.