Wednesday, February 16, 2011
old camera, young photographer
A bit like young dj's favoring vinyl over digital,
some young photographer's favor film cameras
over digital ones.
I'm myself, originally, an old film guy
but haven't taken a single shot
with film for years now.
It's too cumbersome to start with.
Film is crazy.
You don't know if you actually got the shot before it's developed.
That said I don't think digital has made better photographers. Or worse.
But perhaps different.
Plus that so much can be fixed afterwards nowadays.
You can sort of get away with sloppy exposures,
stuff in the wrong place, shit on the lens, etc.
It's so much easier than before.
Thanks to digital cameras and Photoshop and other similar programs.
With all the technology built into our generations of digital cameras it's totally possible to get professional results, technically, without actually knowing anything, technically, about photography.
Photography has at least two sides to it.
To achieve some artistry it may be rather helpful to know technique.
To a degree it was almost impossible to achieve much at all before,
without having a certain degree of technical knowledge.
Later generations of film cameras did of course have a lot of auto functions, but still.
You needed at least some knowledge about film, film speed, characteristics etc.
Before auto functions you really needed to know basic technology.
Despite auto functions pros mostly shot manual, and many actually still do, even with digital.
Knowing your tech helps you achieve certain things in camera whether it's digital or film.
However, now you can achieve much more without almost any technical knowledge.
Which has made us all photographers. Way beyond the Instamatic.
Thus one can argue that we now have more opportunity for creativity than ever.
We should be seeing more great shots.
We see more shots.
Everybody shares what they shoot.
Flickr, blogs, like this one, facebook, youtube (video).
But we don't see much that is particularly new.
Not in the world of fashion photography.
Not in photo journalism, although in this case i'm sure it has made things easier. As time is crucial.
Not in art photography.
Not in portraiture.
And certainly not in commercial advertising photography.
The latter probably a victim of the reliance on stock photo in ad mock-ups.
A pen sketched ideas for images are no longer accepted in presentations.
so in ad images have got caught in a an perpetual circle of what's already been done.
Even shoots are more often than not just about re-shooting an already existing image composition.
Re-shooting the stock image.
If we look back to when a photographer
actually had to know a thing or two
about technology to be able to shoot at all,
there were some photographers who were brilliant technicians
but not so brilliant artists.
I sometimes encouraged them, the ones I knew,
to try to sketch with pencil, to try to compose images,
and make a piece of art before shooting.
Hoping it would bring our some artistry to their photography,
in addition to killer technical skills.
The two are two different skills after all.
Taking place in two parts of our brains.
Some of our finest photographers ever had and have both.
Irving Penn, Ansel Adams, Avedon to name but a few.
Among the younger set of legends, although no longer a spring chicken,
Annie Leibovitz, who certainly benefits from new technology.
Anyway, my point as that I personally find digital an extremely easy and liberating thing.
It's hard to imagine i could shoot as much as I do without digital.
I couldn't afford it to begin with.
Film wasn't exactly cheap.
Although do miss my old Hasselblads.
They have been sitting in camera bags for years untouched.
Tens of thousands of dollars of unused first class equipment.
Last time I shot a job with them I also covered it with digital just as a back up.
The client ended up picking mostly from the digital shots.
Maybe people are now seeing something of a "look" in digital that says modern?
For one, I think we've got used to see images without film grain.
Echtachrome grain and Tri-x just look so dated.
Hasselblads made me shoot differently.
I do miss the Hasselblad look as well.
The square did something to how you framed the world,
how you shot a portrait,
The lenses brought out a special feel.
It can't quite be duplicated with a digital camera and cropping.
Sometimes limitations help you.
Being forced to understand how to overcome limitations also help.
Plus that before, when we shot film, and didn't have 100 % control and instant control of what we just did, we were given "gifts". Things happened we couldn't control.
Couldn't foresee. Or see when it happened.
Which sometimes turn out for the better.
It was certainly rather nerve-racking
to travel through several airports from some third world country
with a big bag of undeveloped film.
Not even knowing if they'd make the trip home to the lab.