There has been much weeping and gnashing of teeth in the analog photography community this week regarding the untimely demise of Fuji's FP100c pack film, the last instant film available for use with medium format cameras like my Hasselblad. I know for me that every time a product I use gets discontinued I not only feel the loss of that creative tool, but also question why I continue to go against the grain and pursue an art form that is becoming ever more anachronistic. I'm going to let my geek flag fly a moment and admit that at times like this I always think of this exchange between Gimli and Éomer in Tolkein's Return of the King:
"You have chosen the Evening, but my love is given to the Morning. And my heart forebodes that soon it will pass away for ever."
The Lord of the Rings books are suffused with a sense of melancholy for a world that is a shadow of its former self, and soon to fade away. Tolkien's writing and worldview were surely influenced by his service in the First World War, which profoundly traumatized his generation and in many ways represented the death of the world as his people knew it. However, this sentiment of love in the face of ephemerality is a universal human theme, and one revisited again and again in literature. This idea of loving a diminished and vanishing world mirrors how I often feel about analog photography.
At times like these I think it is worth remembering that it is our privilege to enjoy this art-form with the greater appreciation for its vulnerability and transience. When I use my Rolleiflex, I do so knowing that I am her steward and there will never be any more like her produced. The Cibachrome print on my wall is more special because I could never have another one made. I am grateful to pursue my art with these tools while they are still available, and when they are gone I am grateful that I experienced them. It is my hope that analog photography will always have a place in the visual arts, but it would be folly to expect it to become anything other than more niche, challenging, and limited in scope.
So I would exhort those in the analog community to be grateful for the experiences we have had with discontinued photographic tools and to enjoy those which are still available. Life is finite and fleeting, and we must enjoy the last of the morning before its gone.