Not too long ago, a professional wedding photographer walked into Don’s Used Photo Equipment, a hole-in-the-wall camera store in Dallas’ Design District, after having driven 40 miles from the other side of North Texas to buy 110 rolls of medium format film at eight bucks a pop. When digital cameras became the device of choice around 2003, many people thought that was the end of the film business — and it nearly was. But over the past couple of years, stores like Don’s, which cater to the film photographer, have seen a significant increase in film sales, especially from wedding photographers. People like the look of film. Digital is clean, more sanitary, but like the sound of analog tape and records, film has an aesthetic quality that’s not easily duplicated digitally. Well-to-do couples will pay a premium to have their weddings shot on film.
“The fun thing about that is that if people can afford to do weddings with film,” said Todd Puckett, whose father, Don Puckett, started the business 19 years ago, “they have a lot of location weddings where they bring the wedding photographer along to shoot the film. We’ve had photographers who got to travel to Cancun, the Bahamas, and Hawaii to shoot weddings in film. Starting August of 2015, our film sales skyrocketed. We wound up increasing 50 percent from 2014. We’re already ahead of purchases from 2015 in 2016.”
Although most other camera stores now carry a token selection of film, Don’s has carved out a niche in the North Texas photography market, carrying 30 varieties of film, including instant film and sheet film for large-format cameras (up to 8-by-10 inches). In the United States, Puckett’s little store is in the Top 25 percent of sales of film by Ilford Photo, a U.K. black-and-white manufacturer.