Who Says Old-Fashioned Street Photography Is Dead?


“If I took your photo and you enjoyed it and I enjoyed it, that’s it,” Mr. Antoine said. “I didn’t care about whoever else seen it.”

He lay his Crown Graphic, which he bought from a neighbor for about $200, on the table at El Castillo. Like many antique machines, the camera was built ingeniously and durably. It is basically a metal box with a glass lens. No electrical parts, no battery. Fully manual. Ten iPhone generations from now, it will still produce beautiful photos.

The peel-apart film Mr. Antoine favors (Fuji FP-100C, a film stock ideal for commercial test shots) is another story. Three years ago, Fuji stopped making it. The fleeting quality of Mr. Antoine’s street photography, “the closest thing to a slice of time that I’ll ever get,” as he says, is made more ephemeral by the fact that one day, possibly very soon, he won’t be able to do it.

Some photographers of his ilk have switched to Instax, another Fuji instant film widely available at stores like Urban Outfitters. It produces images that are smaller in scale and, to Mr. Antoine’s eye, inferior in quality. It isn’t compatible with the Crown Graphic, either, so the charm of his presentation would be lost.

Like Mr. Mendes, Mr. Antoine has been stockpiling the discontinued film. He buys as much as he can get, wherever he can get it, and uses it up quickly. But scarcity has caused the price to skyrocket on the secondary market, from $8.99 for a pack of 10 sheets to $45 and rising

Its eventual extinction is a source of concern for Mr. Antoine. He has a girlfriend and an infant daughter and rent to pay on an apartment in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. His family’s livelihood depends on that film. When the last camera store sells the last leftover roll, what then?



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