Best of Both Worlds – Analog vs. Digital Photography
I was thinking how incredibly lucky I’ve been to have started my photographic career working with film and traditional photographic processes. In just a matter of a few years digital technology has literally hijacked all aspects of the Photographic Industry. Students entering the field of photography (in most cases) are not exposed to the magic of the analog “wet” process and that’s a shame in my opinion.
I can remember making my first print 40 years ago in the darkroom of New York Institute of Technology like it was yesterday. It was one of those “AHHA” moments for me, and to think many photographers have only worked in the digital realm and may never have experienced the mood and mystery of the darkroom with its smells of Dektol, Stop Bath and Fixer, making prints under the glow of an amber safe light.
Just like everything else in my life I blinked and those days are long gone. I do most of my photography digitally now and post-production on the computer with Photoshop instead of the darkroom. I still get in the darkroom on occasion to print, however even though I’m nostalgic for those days I do embrace all aspects of digital imaging and the wide spectrum of creative options it affords me for personal expression.
I remember the first time I worked with Photoshop back around 1993. I attended a workshop at the Center for Creative Imaging sponsored by Kodak in Camden, Maine and I must admit I experienced that same “WOW” moment when I started manipulating images in Photoshop 2.5. Yes…2.5. Many versions ago!
We must remember that digital photographic technology is still in its embryonic stage. We can’t even imagine how its going to look 10 years from now. The technology has advanced so rapidly it is mind boggling. It’s also important to remember that the art of painting has been with us for 35,000 + years and photography has only been around since the 1830′s – about 170 years. In that relatively short period of time it has undergone many amazing transformations.
When its all said and done photography is still about seeing the world and translating what we see with our camera no matter what type of camera we are using and what we use to process the images.
Photography is now shown prolifically on blogs, social networks like Facebook, sent via e-mail, cell phone and twitter and yes is still exhibited in galleries and museums in print form, however is the mystic behind the actual printed image fading?
The print used to be the final step in the photographic process before matting framing and possibly exhibiting. This is still occurring no doubt, but a new generation of photographers and even many older photographers like myself and viewers of photography have other options and avenues for using, viewing, appreciating and analyzing photographs besides making actual prints.
So what about this THING we call the print? In gaining all these new creative venues (outlets) for showing / sharing photography, has the print been relegated to an after thought or more commercial realms?
Is there a real difference between looking at an actual print and the same image posted on the web in digital form?
I create many images with my cell phone, point and shoot, Holga and Canon 5-D that are posted to my blog, but never get printed. Does the viewing experience change when viewed from a computer screen or cell phone? I personally think so!
So yes…photography is rapidly evolving and many of the changes in the medium are great and exciting, however I must admit to missing the “thingness” of the printed photograph.
My manuscript will explore these issues and challenges in more depth. I also plan on incorporating video interviews with professional photographers and photo educators and having them address their thoughts on the evolution of photography from analog to digital and the role the internet vs. the printed image plays in the business (and viewing) of photography.