We depend on technology so much these days – far more than when we all shot with analogue cameras. It puts me in mind of a story I heard, (maybe an urban myth) when a photographer went through airport security in America, (it had to be there) and was asked to turn his camera on, to prove it worked. He tried to explain that it didn’t ‘turn on’, and ‘no they couldn’t open the back’ – in the end apparently, the security guys opened up the camera to discover that it had film in it. The young guy hadn’t heard of analogue cameras that didn’t have batteries in. Whoever heard of a clockwork camera?
So our dependence on technology goes on – in film days, we depended on a different type of technology:- the camera, the film processor, film dryer, the enlarger, printing developer, fixer, print dryers, special wash, and all the associated gadgets.
We had in our family in film years, any number of cameras, more than one enlarger – a dedicated dark room – a frustrated mother who didn’t want film in the freezer, or chemicals in a fridge. The print dryer was huge, and the print trimmer (which I still have) was big and heavy. Everything took up a huge amount of room, and everything we did was either in the dark, or under a red light.
What I’m getting at is that although we’ve come a long way, in terms of technology, we still need the same amount of ‘stuff’. I now have a ‘daylight darkroom’ but still, a dedicated room. I have cameras, lens, computer, tables, and mounts, and cropping machines – it all takes up space. I know photographers who have turned outside sheds and garages into dedicated studios.
Then there’s the problem of what to do when something fails. All cameras fail in the end, I’ve had lens with failed diaphragms, cameras with failed shutters, I’ve dropped lens, and camera together (shattered on some marble) – cable releases fail, and I’ve even lost a tripod.
When the printer fails, (as mine did a month or two back) then that made me start to think about whether I needed a new one or not. I love to print – I love the sight of a brand new photograph coming slowly out – and then the result is nearly the end of the process. I can mat and frame, and there it is. All my own work. However, the cost of ink nowadays is nearly that of the price of gold! I can get a lot of prints done if I outsource for the price of a set of 8 inks.
In the days of analogue, if there was no print, there was no image, so now we have to depend on our, or someone elses technology to produce the final (finished?) image.
Technology now is changing and developing so quickly that it’s hard to keep up. For a long while I didn’t look at what camera manufacturers were doing. I was happy with the gear I had, and saw no reason to change for the sake of it. Then, when I was offered a trip to Spain 18 months ago, I looked for a small camera to take with me. This is when I discovered that technology had moved on without me. The mirrorless camera that I bought then, (the Fuji X-T2) was a revelation. Beautiful image quality from such a small thing. I’m more interested now, that I ever was in what is being engineered for photographers of the future.
So what comes out of the camera now, and photoshop? Sometimes it looks nothing like a traditional photograph. Do we call this something different? Digital art maybe?
Whatever we choose to call it, and whatever images you produce – it still starts with a camera, and most importantly, the photographer behind it.
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