The 130-year-old firm has taken quite the hit in this now-digital world, but the company's president says, "We are still making billions of feet of film."
Is film photography already dead? The professionals say no.
"Oh, no. Film is not dead at all. It's very much alive. We are just so inspired by it," says Christina Looker of Made You Look Photography in Bakersfield. Her company has found its own niche with film photography. Clients, she says, are actually requesting film, because they like the look and the idea of it.
Bakersfield College photography professor Kristopher Stallworth says he thinks film is still the pinnacle of quality. According to him, the evidence is in his own black-and-white photography.
"Every little pebble, even the grains of sands in a shot, you can see the detail in it," he says.
Stallworth is not a strictly film photographer. He understands that digital has its place and can certainly carry quality, too. But the level of quality in digital will cost you more.
"Film is going to give you much better results dollar for dollar," says sales manager Jimmy Bunting of Henley's Photo.
Bunting uses film for his own photography. When he's in the store, he recommends it, too.
"The first question is always, 'I got this old camera. Do they still make film for it, or should I just throw it away?' We say, 'No, no, no, don't throw your camera away. Hang onto it,'" Bunting says.
Beyond cost and quality, the photographers all agree that film allows for a bit more intimacy.
"I just love how physical it is and how you're always going to remember that very moment looking at that photograph, because you were so involved with the process," says Marielle Chua of Made You Look Photography.
With film, processing can consume hours. These photographers, however, don't seem to mind. For them, it's a process worth the effort and time.
"You're in this dark room, and you've got a big machine that just shoots out a beam of light onto a piece of paper. You've got a bunch of chemicals that you mix by hand, and you throw the piece of paper in there," Bunting says. "It's just magical that all of a sudden this image will just appear out of nowhere. There's something about that, that I don't know, it's mind-blowing. I don't think that ever gets old."
Henley's Photo recently opened up the only public darkroom in Bakersfield.
"I feel like this is an answered prayer," Looker says. "I'm like, 'This is so amazing.' It happened right now, and we need it."
Reservations are recommended, and, if needed, a darkroom orientation is available. If you're interested, call (661) 324-9484 to set up a time.