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Where now, O Photography?

Kia Ora tatou:
The holidays are a great time to take a break, sit back and reassess all sorts of things.
Photography is no exception. There is no question that digital has matured as a technology. Just look at what is now available in camera stores (and what
isn’t). I remember about 12 years ago being invited to a Kodak trade show where we were introduced to a cutting-edge programme called Aldus PhotoStyler and its Mac rival, photoShop 1, as well as the latest 1+MP professional camera (it cost >$NZ 25 000!). They confidently assured us that digital would have completely replaced film by 1995!
Interestingly enough, the cameras we now use are developmental extensions of film-based technologies. We are part of a long tradition that stretches back into the 19th century. As such we are participants in a dance whose steps were formulated by our forbears. Any movements we make are in in one way or another dictated by the photographers who came before us. A kind of danse traditionelle, if you will. Developing a new approach is not easy (assuming we want to do so).
For those of you who wish to view your photographic direction in the rear-view mirror of photographic tradition, may I suggest this essay by Irwin Puts, a long-time Leica commentator and authority. Some of his thoughts are provocative but clearly argued. Leica fans will not enjoy aspects of it!
As a taste:
……..Digitalization of photography means that the main expansion will occur in the consumer electronics domain where the prosumers and the instant snap-shooters with the mobile cam/phone will dominate. The true amateur photographer may become extinct unless we can focus on photographic quality as the result of a craft that is worth pursuing….

2 Responses

  1. garry says:

    The “true amateur photographer” will never die.

    These are the photographers who make images because they feel they have something to say be it about people and where they live; and the landscape. They do not suffer from the contraints of the professional photographer – client needs & the necessity to have a living. Nor do they have the issues confronting the prosumer. I remember standing in front of a movie theatre that had a giant blowup of a black LOTR character hanging from the roof. Along side me were approx 20 people taking photos into the sun of a black balloon with their phone cameras. I wonder how many of those files got printed as 8×12?

    Digital has made it easier for more people to be photographers – be it just for birthdays, kids etc. Maybe among all these extra folk there are a few individuals who find they have found something really special & want to improve their ability. Maybe then… they become a “true amateur photographer.”

  2. Linda says:

    I remember us all having a discussion in your Portrait summer school 3 years ago. You asked us all how low would prices for digital cameras have to come before we would consider buying one. At that stage they were at least $10,000. Most of us said they would have to come down to about $4000 before we could consider it, and we laughed, then raced off to the lab to pick up our prints. How dramatically things changed after that.–>

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