A decade ago, the film camera YouTube scene was mainly occupied by uncle-figures. To them, a message of love: thank you for holding the fort at a time when film stocks and film cameras were being discontinued and abandoned by the minute. In those days, it took stamina, stubbornness, and a sense of resistance to keep any analog community alive, virtual or not.
But a new generation has taken over the stage: as passionate as their predecessors, they spent their early days not only growing their analog muscles, but doing so around digital bones. The result is that we now enjoy a visually strong, video savvy community that, helped by the last decade of technological developments, crafts each video with the care and talent of small film studios. It’s a good time to be a camera nerd, analog or digital, or more commonly, both.
No doubt the algorithm has already suggested some of the most prolific, long-lasting, and famous film photography YouTube channels to you. With tens of thousands of subscribers, Matt Day, Kyle MacDougall, and King JVpes are just a few of the most popular ones out there.
But there are numerous other committed YouTube analog photographers who may have flown under your algorithmic radar. This is me taking on a very authoritative voice and asserting my expertise: here are the ten best film photography YouTube channels ever created that you should absolutely be following right now.
Let me say that again, but with a tiny bit more of myself in it (so, more anxieties and much less confidence). Here are my very own, very personal, favorite film photography YouTube channels right now, at this moment. I just like them. I hope you will, too. Go follow them. If you want. Please. Thank you.
Analog Life (formerly Film Life Vlog)
A true analog photography amateur in the original sense of the word (love is at the roots of the word), Analog Life explores all corners of analog practice. His fantastic collection from thrift stores looks like a museum and will have you turning into a Goodwill scavenger in no time. The channel also walks viewers through the process of making photographs from A to Z: from setting up your darkroom to getting your hands into film development, from best cameras for beginners, to digital versus film. The channel has recently started to embrace its full self and move into “analog life” much beyond film: think radios, tapes, and other retro tech.
Whether you just want to look into some lesser-known shutter boxes or looking for repair advice, Aly’s Vintage Camera Alley is where you should be. The channel is only one facet of Aly’s fabulous camera reviews, cleaning, and repairing tutorials. Maybe you are here to join her in her pushing/pulling film adventures. Or you just want to tag along on a photo walk with her (and since we can’t yet come back to the actual photo walks under-appreciated in our ancient face to face life, virtual photo walks remain a nice stand-in). AVCA is also a blog in which you can read about all the above, plus snapshots of the film community through a series of detailed and personal interviews.
Joan Michel’s channel offers everything that makes YouTube YouTube: the never-stop learning part and the strong hanging out part. Camera tests and film stock reviews and how-tos might get you there first. Then you’ll hang around to simply spend good virtual time with her through her vlogs: documenting her photographic journey and life, with New Jersey and New York casually existing in the background. Her Creative Juice series, in which she chats with other film photographers, is the only zoom meeting you won’t be looking forward to skip.
Crashing Talya Adams’ videos of behind the scene shoots feels like a pro just handed you the pass to get backstage. Whether you are more interested in her street photography in L.A., her portraits in studio or outdoors, she takes you along with an eye on the practical and technical specifics of the moment. Her channel is very process-oriented, and following her often feels like joining an ongoing workshop. Her use of natural light for portraits is fantastic, and her camera reviews carry the energy she brings to her photography. And and and… she has a Cheap Series that no analog photographer worth their roll of film should skip.
In my (somewhat nerdy) imagination, Karin Majoka and I became pandemic lockdown friends (along with Doing Film Things and T. Hopper, listed below, who also created their channels right in time to keep me company during the end of the world). Her channel even had lockdown segments that may have played a small tiny minuscule role in reuniting me with daily film photography practice. But the confinement panic and pandemic blues are not the only reasons for her channel to remain one of my absolute favorites: the aesthetic, the humorous tone, and the casual know-how just embark you as a viewer (and yes, I will stay for yet another Leica review, who would have thought!). You might want to tag along for her photo walks across Berlin, if not for the trip, for the light lessons of street photography.
If film photography is a craft, Doing Film Things is your guide into that craft. While the channel does offer a great set of camera reviews, it’s the experimentation in all things pictures that makes it stand out. Filmstocks compared and expired, darkroom adventures with various potions and flares, and the actual printing of images from the bathroom corner (making images, the whole process that is, remains to me an absolute magic that we often take for granted). Beware: Doing Film Things’ detailed installing and processing from darkroom to scan will have you leave your favorite lab to sparkle your own. And don’t forget to add to your audio list The New Classic Film Photography Podcast and its refreshing guest list from all kinds of corners and backgrounds.
If there is a binge-able version of YouTube film photography, this is it. I await every single video from T. Hopper with something close to the excitement of back-to-school days (the good part, excitement, I said) and a new season of my favorite T.V. shows. And that’s because her videos are both so educational and entertaining, cinematically well crafted and incredibly documented. The film stock series were great, but the later videos are something else. (Which, I suspect, is why the channel grew from 300 subscribers to 21K and counting in less than a year). Each video is a short documentary that brings her personal touch to a very well-structured approach, all timed perfectly with the right amount of archival footage. We are talking serious film photography analysis embedding here, with “early photographers you should know” brought into close kinship with cinematography and even painting.
With ChrisBPhoto, you’re in good hands for all things film photography, energy included. The channel has everything the analog photographer could ask for: film stock impressions (nerdy), camera reviews (very nerdy), unboxing (premium nerdy), darkroom tutorials (nerdy but crafty), and photo-walks (nerdy going social). You’ll love it because… well, I guess we just are nerds. And just in case you didn’t have enough, she is the cohost (with @timothymakeups) of the Analog Talk Podcast. I’ll definitely be staying put for more and notably for her upcoming series on getting into large format.
I recently discovered The Film Fellow thanks to an interview on AVCA. The channel started less than a year ago; he doesn’t have a lot of videos, neither a crowd of subscribers. Exactly my point: some of the best channels out there do not necessarily come with the bells and whistles of likes and frantic content uploading. The Film Fellow is anything but that: personable, casual, taking his time, his videos are nonetheless always as informative as they are relatable. I particularly like how he often pairs a particular camera’s experience with a particular film (and yes I did throw three particulars in that one sentence).
Closing where everything started: when I began to get (back and back again) into film photography in the digital world, Shawnee Union was my anchor. His camera reviews give you just the right amount to get started on that camera you just bought (or get you closer to that eBay auction that you were trying to stay away from…). He also has this assignment series that is amazing to get ideas when you have… you know, none. He hasn’t been posting on YouTube recently, which is totally fine: I wanted to throw the word “unfortunately” in there, but I am resisting since I believe we often take for granted content creators and the incredible amount of work they put into each video/article, always demanding for more to consume. Life takes each of us into different places, and there might be value in posing, exploring, or just rewatching videos/rereading articles again rather than moving on to the next thing. If Shawnee Union comes back to YouTube, it’s great; if not, it’s still great because all of his amazing work is still out there. And and and… he has a pretty fantastic website that I am just discovering now.
And some more –
Additional film photography YouTubers that I am just starting to explore and look forward to continue include Andy Perez-Caba, Jess Hobbs, Ahza, Sanlee Snaps, Zain Riza, Ejatu Shaw, S & J Analog Club, Paulie B, among others.
What are your go to analog photography YouTubers? Let us know in the comments!
This guest post was curated and written by a mysterious person known only as… M For Film.
Here is their bio!
M for filM’s journey into film photography can be best summarized in the wise words of Bilbo Baggins: “there and back again.” When she is not proposing undying love to her analog muse (or cursing it well into the afterlife), she works as an anthropologist here and there. That, too, is another thing she likes to love and curse daily. Oh well…
[Some of the links in this article will direct users to our affiliates at B&H Photo, Amazon, and eBay. By purchasing anything using these links, Casual Photophile may receive a small commission at no additional charge to you. This helps Casual Photophile produce the content we produce. Many thanks for your support.]