Deetchums is a film-based apparel company that began in Los Angeles. Born from passions in photography and design, Deetchums merges the two in a unique way. Each article of clothing from Deetchums includes a tag that contains a real piece of film. The beautiful, saturated, crisp image that appears on the tag is a genuine piece of 35mm film that was hit with light, processed in a darkroom, and paired with a piece of clothing to share one amazing location at a time through the magic of film.
I fell in love with photography when I started shooting 35mm. I had always taken pictures on my iPhone, and occasionally something I shot would strike me. These few ‘keepers’ usually involved strong contrast, dramatic angles, and vibrant color. But they also tended to feel somewhat accidental. What was the difference between the one picture that moved me, and the hundreds I’d never look at again?
On a trip to Europe one summer, I took over a thousand pictures on my iPhone. While useful for cataloging the locations we visited, most of them did nothing to satisfy my desire to capture--and cherish--powerful photos. My generation uses pictures to communicate in all kinds of ways, but I became obsessed with the idea that most of what I was doing with my digital cameras--whether with my phone or a handheld--had little to do with the practice of photography.
I’ve come to believe that pictures should be taken with purpose, and shared the same way. With a film camera, you have a limited number of shots per roll. This limitation is empowering. It pushes you to think about each shot, to consider carefully whether or not what you’re seeing through the viewfinder is the best version of what you’re experiencing firsthand. As a result, you’re more in the moment of a given experience. On the other hand, snapping a picture on your phone feels almost obligatory--we often do it as a substitute for being in the moment. We do it to fight off some indistinct anxiety that, if we don’t record the moment, we won’t remember it as clearly--that something will be lost. But in reality, we are just replacing one anxiety with another--we now have so many photos, they become meaningless. We know even as we take a picture that we’re unlikely ever to look at it again. How many times have you seen someone watch an entire concert, or football game, or some other event, through the screen of their phone, desperate to remember every moment, but not fully experiencing any of them?
Careful photography actually enhances, not detracts, the memory of a time and place. Of course the image will show you what the trees or sky or faces looked like. But when you consider each shot, and you think about what you’re seeing, and smelling, and feeling--and how best to capture it--you place yourself fully into the moment.
Keeping the film that was in the camera for those experiences, and being able to take it in my hands, has become a ritual to me. Shooting film taught me to understand photography as a distinct activity from just taking pictures. There’s satisfaction in producing something physical, something that perfectly recaptures what you saw and how you felt. Your actions physically transformed the film from a glossy black strip in a canister into something more. After careful framing, lens choice, exposure and aperture settings, you exposed it to the light you were immersed in, then and there, and recorded that moment in a physical form. Digital sensors capture the light in zeros and ones, and as soon as the shutter closes there’s nothing but data on an SD card. Film can be shared in a literal sense. You can hand someone a slide that was there with you. They can hold it up to the light and see colors, and vibrancy, and detail that even some of the best digital cameras just can’t match. They can have their own experience with it.
Film is important to me. I created Deetchums to inspire people to shoot film again. To put more consideration into the photos you take, and by extension, more consideration and thoughtfulness into the experiences you have every day. By taking pictures that stand the test of time, you can create moments that do the same.