No, Vegans, Film Photography Is Not Vegan Friendly

The stereotype of someone being a vegan and a film/analog photographer is very counterintuitive.

Unfortunately for many analog shooters, there is still a stigma against us who shoot film. Because we like old school things and we like the actual connection with our subject while not worrying about all the digital things, we are often also associated with vegans. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe they just think it’s part of the culture. But the truth is film photography isn’t vegan-friendly. In fact, it’s pretty far from it.

Negative Film

Most photographers who get into film will most likely reach for a negative film emulsion. By far, it’s the most common type of film that we can drop off and have developed for us. In addition to that, iconic looks from Portra, Ektar and PRO400H continue to captivate photographers to the point where presets are created so that digital shooters can act like they’re film shooters. But in truth, they’re pretenders. Real negative film contains gelatin which is made using animal parts. This isn’t a recent development (no pun intended) either. It has pretty much always been the case.

Slide Film

Slide film is pretty much the same as negative film. That means that PROVIA and VELVIA will be in the same boat. Sorry folks!

“While Ilford chemicals don’t contain animal products, their film and paper products do. These come in the form of gelatin, which is part of the light-sensitive emulsion layer coated over the transparent plastic film base. However, Ilford also mentions that the gelatin they use is a by-product of the farming industry, so no extra animals were harmed to make these products. We can say it’s the same for other brands, but at least we know for sure that animals aren’t being harmed for the sole purpose of making gelatin for photographic products.”

Instant Film

Instant film is where things start to get a big trickier. Some film emulsions like Polaroid Originals and the remnants that the Impossible Project had contained actual negatives in them. Said negatives had gelatin. But newer things like Instax, while they’re still an actual piece of film with a negative, also aren’t vegan-friendly. Why? Gelatin!

The Blasphemous Sadness That Is zINK

Now, zINK is where things get interesting. They are pieces of paper with the ink pretty much already in it. But those are just pieces of paper that sometimes can be printed to look like instant film and most of the time they don’t. I hate the quality of zINK personally; I’m not sure why Canon chose to use it in some of their own cameras when they have some of the best printing paper on the market. Alas, zINK is vegan friendly, but it isn’t at all film.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.