What has happened to photography as the digital realm rules? For one, it makes some believe like they are a good photographer! We have more people who think they are good photographers because they capture an image a digital camera has exposed as perfectly as probably possible. Digital photography manufacturers promise to make you a […]

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Photography in the digital age. Photography in the digital age.

What has happened to photography as the digital realm rules?

For one, it makes some believe like they are a good photographer! We have more people who think they are good photographers because they capture an image a digital camera has exposed as perfectly as probably possible.

Digital photography manufacturers promise to make you a film directormake you a film director if you buy and use a Go Pro.

We have a lot of user generated photos out there applying filters like “Kodachome” which I doubt many modern day digital photographer have even heard of. Makes you wonder who knows the difference between Tri-X, Plus-X or Panatomic-X nowadays.

We have a slew of 40ish mid life crisis people who have purchased technology that allows them to “express themselves” by taking pictures and video leaving the technical part of exposure and film speed (ASA aka ISO) strictly to the technology they purchased.

Should every photographer shoot film at some point in their life?

It used to be one would go out on assignment with a camera and a bag with different kinds of film. Verichrome, Ektachrome, Kodachrome, Fuji Film, AGFA or 3M color slide film and always with black and white film maybe even some infrared film. Not any more! I personally have changed the way I shoot and am 99% digital now. I really do appreciate those that have created these filters for Photoshop based on the curves and unique characteristics of a particular film.

Without the instant gratification we have today, in the pre digital days, we had to suffice with 35mm Polaroids from Marty Forscher’s Polaroid back knowing (hoping) we would get the results we wanted on the actual film. Keeping the variables of mixing Elinchrome lighting with Leica lenses and tested stocked emulsions from a specific batch of Kodachrome and when the final combination of these variables were tested  this allowed photographers like Stan MalinowskiStan Malinowski to  anticipate the end results.

Stan Malinowski was a technical kind of guy and did not like to change his formula. With that in mind what he saw in his head was usually very close to what he came back to the studio with from the lab in the form of images. He burned through film and processing costs testing his emulsions to allow him to pre-visualize his incredible images. This is what made StanStan an artist! He possessed a lethal combination of left brain right brain collaboration for pre visualization.

Photography in general is not like this anymore and I wonder if this dilutes the art of photography? I think every serious lensman (woman) should shoot film. The experience can do nothing but help them.

Does shooting digital makes you take chances?

To the trained eye much of what wee see on self published blogs (like maybe this one? LOL) are not thoughtful images but are just snap and shoot recordings that sometimes can look really good. Then we have this selfie thing which is kinda cool but is way over done. So over done I actually thought producing a selfie POV sales video was a great idea! I felt this approach would be one that an audience would relate to and as such effectively communicate the sales message and call to action.

The concept was so out of the box the publisher did not have the resolve (guts) to commit to it. It was too “risky” of a production concept. Only goes to show that there are still those in the mainstream publishing world who are really imitative and not innovative. You could say reactive and not proactive. It is also possible they are smarter than I am.

Getting back on track, we have more photos and videos being made using automated technology that makes us some like “artists”. The reality is unless you have dedicated a large portion of your life to the craft of photography you have to accept you could really just be a hack masquerading as a visual artist. Yes it matters that you have carried a camera bag on your shoulder for many years not just months. Yes it matters that “learning” the craft of photography from a mentor is a part of your growth process.

Photography is an art form that is in decline!

What this means for some is that the craft of photography has declined thanks to the digital technology that has developed. It has gotten down to finding someone who can use a camera and a computer program as per the instruction manual touting them as “talented”. Is it fair to say that for some publishers/clients finding a digital photographer can be like finding someone who can use Microsoft Office? YES! Believe me there are publishers/clients out there who do not care about quality anymore. That is another blog that is coming up soon!

Film still has a future!

What is nice to see is how there are still film students going to summer workshops at places like USC and NYU to learn how to shoot film to make a film. I even heard HBO is thinking about going back to shooting film because keeping up with the changing digital landscape is just as costly. Is there a return to film coming to HBO?

In speaking with a film maker who is a student recently, Carlos Enrique TejeraCarlos Enrique Tejera had to figure out what 16mm film would cost to shoot on his school project. It was $24 a minute. He prefers the look of film and he also said shooting film had an impact on not only on his production budget but especially on his talent. It seems that with the talent knowing there was 7 minutes in the can to roll it made a difference in how the talent performed in front of the camera on the first take. There was an air of seriousness to performing knowing the costs involved. He felt with the talent knowing the costs involved that it encouraged them to try harder to be good when it came time to roll film.

What am I saying here?

Am I trying to say that film is better than digital or vice versa? No. What I am trying to say is that not everyone is a photographer or a film maker just because they can now wear a camera and capture an incredible first person POV. It is a bit distressing to see photography going this way. Shooting off a pole in Sting Ray city is not engaging in underwater photography.

For the ones who have not dedicated a life to the love and study of photography they will never get it. Sad thing is that most of these “film” photographers and makers will be completely gone in 30 to 40 years from now. Digital photography is here to stay but for the serious image maker it will be good for you to know the history of photography and maybe even use more than one kind of film before it is all gone.

Subscribe to my blogSubscribe to my blog for more rantings and ravings about everything photography. The content of this blog features my own personal opinions and thoughts about photography and the business of being a photographer. Let me know what you think!

PS – I am looking for photographically suitable human subjects to participate as willing collaborators in the process of their own individual art expression.

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