The State of Digital Photography

After spending many years in the darkroom printing black and white and then many more years shooting Kodachrome and Ektachrome, I , like many other film photographers, have had a hard time of letting go a medium which we had grown to trust and was familiar with. However, with the arrival of digital technology , which keeps improving every few months, it is not difficult to embrace digital photography . Today, with several generations of digital cameras behind us, we are pretty much free from the darkroom and free from relying on sloppy photo labs. It should be a time to rejoice. Or is it? Well, fasten your seat belt and allow me to tell you what the digital landscape is shaping up around us. With the price of digital camera becoming more affordable, it appears that just about everybody owns a digital camera. And if someone does not have a camera, he or she, at least, has a cell phone, which, most likely, can take pictures. In the good old days of the film era, I can always count on waiting patiently until someone had finished taking his picture and then I can get my shot unobstructed. Now, in the digital world, that same person will take a picture; he then checks the lcd screen. If he doesn’t like the picture, he deletes it, re-shoot, checks it again and then shoots some more. Sometimes this could go on for twenty minutes or more. And finally, when he is happy with his creation, another passerby will take his place and repeat the same process again. Once in Lisbon, Portugal, I witness a couple who had gotten  into a heated shouting match because they couldn’t agree on how to pose for the picture. And this went on for soooooooo long. By then, the remaining light was not even suitable for a snap shot. During the film era, most of the people would take one or perhaps two shots and then walk away. And most likely, that roll of film in the camera was left there from the previous vacation and had passed its expiration date long ago. Today, everyone is a photographer, a picture editor, and an art director. Yes, there is even a point and shoot camera with lcd screen on both sides so you can see your own image before shooting yourself. And soon these hybrid photographers will be in every corner of the world with their point and shoot digital cameras and cell phones. In the future, I’m afraid, a professional photographer will need to bring, in addition to his camera bag, a bulldozer to clear a path in front of his favorite shooting spot. Don’t you miss Paul Simon and his Kodachrome? Jan.9th 2010