Arts & Life, Features

COVID-19 pandemic began an analog renaissance

While most people are pressing phone screens with fake shutter sounds to take photos, others are carrying around heavy metal cameras and rolls of film.

There has always been a small cult of people who are devoted to using analog technology. Some prefer to stream new albums and others are running to record stores to get new pressings off the shelf and onto their vinyl player.

But now, it seems that that small cult of people is now part of an evolving trend.

The pandemic has caused people to look for ways to be more present and has given people the desire to do things that give them a tangible connection with something, leaving 2021 to usher in an analog renaissance.

Celebrities like Bretman Rock and Kylie Jenner are carrying around 35mm cameras to keep their Instagram feed well-fed with unique photos. The direct flash, grain, and candid effect that film photography provides is the look that everyone is chasing.

“It’s like the gratitude of getting your negatives back and realizing that it’s physical, you can touch it,” said Pablo Unzueta, who works at Tuttle Cameras in Long Beach. “With digital it’s just data. There’s a lot of disconnect between the work and its digital copy. Whereas for film, you’re touching the film, you’re touching the camera, you’re actually thinking about what you’re gonna shoot because you have a limited amount of frames.”

Instagram and TikTok are now flooded with users’ film photos, and camera shops are seeing increased demand.

Unzueta describes that the number of people coming into Tuttle Cameras and requesting analog gear is increasing, and the people who are inquiring seem to get younger and younger.

Film isn’t the only thing making a comeback, vinyl albums are becoming more popular as well. According to the Record Industry Association of America, vinyl albums made up 5.1% of the recorded music revenue in the U.S. in 2020 compared to making up only 0.2% in sales in the year 2000.

More current music artists are pressing their new albums on vinyl and selling them alongside their merch and CDs. Vinyl makes up a large percentage of their revenue and is an amazing collector’s item that people are splurging on.

“There’s something to be said for having something that’s had a life beyond what you are taking it home to,” said Gary Farley, owner of Third Eye Records in Long Beach. “It has seen other decades and I think people like that feeling. It’s a little used and a little worn but it sounds just as great.”

Third Eye Records in Long Beach Ca.
Third Eye Records provides records for residents and visitors of Long Beach. Photo credit: Julissa Villalobos

Farley said that he is seeing an influx of younger crowds visiting Third Eye Records and shopping for vinyl. He also mentioned that Third Eye Records has gone from selling mostly used vinyl to stocking new pressings that are selling just as rapidly.

People going back to capturing unique moments in time on film and supporting their favorite music artists by actually buying albums, allows people to take a step back and be present in life’s moments.

“From someone who has been doing this for a while,” said Farley, “Seeing younger generations connecting with this format [vinyl] is really important and I hope that it continues.”

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