Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Few Thoughts On Film Versus Digital

Hardly a day goes by where this topic is not discussed in some form or another. Some folks have moved over and work only in digital. Others cling to film as if it were a cherished vestige of the true cross. I've heard stories of Magazines, and other entities that use photographs, that will not let you shoot digital and I've also heard stories of magazines, and others, that won't let you work any other way but digital. While it is a hard and true fact that digital has muscled it's way into the world of photography it is also clear that film has hardly bit the dust. Yet. Personally if a client wants me to work with film then I am happy to do so. The same holds true for digital. I suspect that once when of the big players like Kodak or Fuji gets out of the game entirely then industrial produced film is dead. My guess is that film has maybe 10 more years. The death of film will open a new world for a few curious and industrious photographers who want to try their hand at making their own films and papers. It could prove to be an interesting and inventive time. I can imagine how certain photographers will more clearly differentiate themselves by the materials they make and use

Personally I like digital. The bigger truth is that I like making photographs. This is the point that always seems to get lost or discarded in this small debate. I really care very little weather a piece of light sensitive plastic or a light sensitive chip is holding the latent information of the pictures I make. It's the pictures made that need to be considered. The materials are very secondary. I know a lot of folks cling to film with a kind of holy pretentiousness that somehow they are "truer" artists because they use materials that now seem a bit old fashion. It's as if they have created some kind of fantasy notion that film is made by Buddhist monks in small batches on mountain tops and then carted over here by donkeys or ancient sailing vessels. In fact it's made in Rochester, NY or Japan and it's a filthy, nasty chemical laden process. It's as if contemporary photographers were busy lamenting the loss of making daguerreotypes or the wet plate collodion process. It's a waste of time and energy. Yes the tools and the materials do effect the medium. But truly once an image is put on paper or more likely, a computer display, it's very nearly impossible to tell if it was made by a digital back or made on film. The printing process is another story all together.

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