|Leica M4-2 fitted with a Canon 35mm f/1.5 and Portra 400, Unretouched machine |
scan (and kinda flat one) from a Fuji Frontera mini lab machine. (1/30 f/1.5)
Not unlike some of my friends and colleagues, photography has changed so much that a portion of the draw or allure has recently gone missing.
The tools are advancing to the point that fantastic imagery is literally just a few clicks away. This is great for the masses; more people than ever are getting interested in shooting still and motion pictures because the tools and technology are more accessible than ever. This heightened interest challenges manufactures to increase quality of their products while decreasing the cost of entry. Nothing fancy, simple economics, the very same model that gave Henry Ford an edge.
Where I’m struggling is the deep (or even cursory) knowledge of optics, chemistry and mechanics is no longer required to be fully engaged in the photographic process.
Part of what made me fall in love with photography at such a young age is it has always been somewhat of a perfect art form, requiring the proper blend of vision (or art), coupled with an equally developed understanding of the science or mechanics needed to create a final work. The two are intertwined and completely reliant on one another.
Just recently I’ve realized the sea-saw is out of balance, it is off kilter and that is what has been eating away at me.
This unbalance is equally as devastating to the professional photography industry as it is to me personally. With so many people shooting, the markets are flooded with images from non-professionals that a substantial portion of the industry has shifted or just plain disappeared. Photographers are forced to look at marketing and branding messages like never before or face extinction.
One benefit of this mass consumifacation is the dyed in the wool, true blue photographers can look back in history a bit to again differentiate themselves from the pack. Film cameras are available to the patient shopper for pennies on the dollar and professional labs still exist...for now.
I guess some would argue that filters and plug ins are available to provide a unique ‘film’ look in postproduction but there is a certain organic quality that can never be replaced digitally. In addition, the very act of working with a film camera forces the photographer to think and work more methodically - gone is the seemingly endless supply of frames. Less is more.
Having comfort and capability in various film formats can add another (and potentially valuable) tool to ones kit. Don’t sell off the mkII’s and Zeiss wide-angle glass just yet, it IS just as fantastic as it sounds, just give some TLC to the now aging Hasselblads and Leicas we used yesterday. They are every bit as wonderful today as they were in their hay day.