These are interesting times, no question about it. A New World Order has emerged and continues to evolve as one technology eclipses another. Much of the analysis has been focused narrowly on the hardware, but in fact, it’s really only the “software” — the human component — that matters. A camera is just an inert hunk of plastic, metal, and glass, until someone picks it up and takes pictures with it. As always, it’s what we do with the machinery that determines its artistic utility and, ultimately, its value. Call it a vision thing.
I’m not sure if the photographic community as a whole has reached some kind of watershed moment, but for some reason there has been a sudden burst of well reasoned, interesting bits of writing on the subject of shooting film in a digital age. Here are a few of the best examples that I’ve recently encountered.
One of may favourite landscape photographers is fellow Canadian, Gary Nylander. In a recent blog entry he mused about the relative merits of the two technologies and film’s place in the current photographic environment. I think he neatly summarizes part of the challenge/reward relationship when he notes, “I feel that there is a sense of accomplishment in that some film cameras are not easy to use, neither is playing a violin.” You can read more of Gary’s take in My Thoughts on Why I Shoot Film.
Bruce Barnbaum, author of the excellent book, “The Art of Photography,” and a hero to many, puts things nicely when he writes, “There is nothing about digital photography that forces lack of thinking, but there is much about digital photography that encourages it.” His essay, New Thoughts on Digital Photography, is a worthwile read.
Olivier Du Tré is another photographer whose work I enjoy. Like Gary Nylander, Olivier appreciates the virtues of both digital and film and talks about why he’s in the process of completely converting to the latter in his blog post, Why I Shoot Film.
Finally, Nathan Jones gives a moving, and nuanced perspective on film’s virtues in his two-part essay, Why Film Matters. Going from digital to film, he notes, “transferred the responsibility for technically competent shots from the near infallible machine to the very fallible me.” Be sure to read both parts.