Thursday, September 20, 2007

Film or digital? A photographer’s perspective

Any professional photographer who has been in the game more than 10 years is going to have a soft spot in his heart for film.

If anyone would have told me back in 1990 that a decade later I would be spending more time in front of a computer than behind the camera, I would have laughed. The transition hasn’t been overnight, but technology has definitely taken over the industry.

But as a recent Kodak survey brought to light, two-thirds of professional photographers continue to use film for special projects, even though they shoot digital out of necessity.

I have to admit digital photography has become almost 100 percent of what I shoot in my professional career. That’s because, for the most part, digital has surpassed film in image and reproduction quality, and nobody in the industry wants to deal with film anymore. Photo labs have been going out of business and most camera stores don’t carry darkroom chemicals now.

The truth is we live in a very “need it now” society and for that it seems we are willing to sacrifice a little bit of artistry.

I’ve heard people say that digital photography has made amateurs better and professionals worse. Anyone can take a decent photo these days because the camera does most of the work, and all the knowledge once needed to take a great photo without seeing an instant outcome is thrown out the door. Most pros I know (like the ones Kodak surveyed) still shoot some film for more personal and creative projects as a way of staying sharp.

Even still with all the bits, bytes, and bucks involved in the modern digital photography era, there is still nothing like the sight of a perfectly exposed transparency on the light table or the smell of fixer in the darkroom as your black and white masterpiece slowly appears under the safe light.

What about it, photographers?

-MAXIMILIAN FRANZ, Staff Photographer

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