I’ve been a film photographer pretty much the entire time that I have been taking photographs, except for a two year spell around 2007 when I used a Nikon D70s for a bit. Of course, many years ago, there was no separation between a film photographer and a digital photographer. Film was all there was, so you were just “a photographer”. But with the advent and spread in popularity of digital photography, those of us who remained with film became quite rare. As the years passed, we have seen film photographers gradually become, literally, one in a thousand, and so the means in which we could discuss and share ideas with other film enthusiasts was made harder.
That said, the Internet has helped. In fact, it’s probably largely because of the Internet that the views and opinions and reviews about film have managed to spread as far as they have. And because of those very articles and discussions, online, many youngsters are now discovering film, often for the first time. Remember that a 20 year old today has probably only ever known the concept of a digital camera and may never have used, or even seen or heard of, a film camera.
And so it occurred to me several months ago that it would be a cool idea to build a website for film photographers to map themselves on a global map. The Google Maps API means that web developers can link that technology to their own websites at a fairly minimal cost. But I sat on the idea for a few weeks, primarily because I was put off paying another heap of money to Amazon Web Services every month for another website! But the more I thought about it, the more I felt it could be a big success.
So in early March 2019, I registered a new domain name : thefilmphotographersmap.com with the intention of building a site for film photographers to use as stated above. A few weeks of development later, and after buying a couple of professional plugins to facilitate user interactions, today I am pleased to announce the availability of “The Film Photographers Map.com”
The site serves two core functions. The biggest and most obvious element is the map. When a new users registers, one of the questions it asks you about is your approximate location. That field is linked to Google Maps via their API so you can be as precise as you like, though I generally recommend entering an approximate area such as street name, or district name, but at least specify your city or town. As the user types, Google Maps will list results for the user to select. After clicking the register button, their location is plotted on the map automatically and the user can go on to browse the world map of other film photographers nearby. Only registered, logged in members, can view the map and the user has a choice about how much information is available to members, just their friends, or just themselves.
The second function is community driven. Each user has a profile dashboard where they can add a profile picture, and profile page picture, post status updates, send and accept friend requests, they can create private or public groups to arrange photo walks and similar events. They also have “an extended profile” which is where they can add details about their cameras, preferred film stocks, add a biographical write-up and so on. The same privacy overrides apply if the user wants to invoke additional privacy options. They can search for other members in certain areas and send messages, or search by name.
The overall aim therefore is to
- map film photographers by approximate location, to eventually generate a “heat map” of sorts, and
- to enable them to communicate with each other.
The more photographers who use the site, the more likely it is to work for all of us. Without users, it’s worthless, and I’ll just end up shutting it down because I’m not paying Amazon over £25 a month for no reason! So please spread the word via your preferred social media platform, podcasts, discussion forums and news articles.