While it may not always look like it from some of the photos that I’ve posted on this blog, I am a keen photographer and like to think that I am capable of taking good photos, sometimes slightly different ones, and occasionally, a wonderful one. I have two photos blown to an almost silly size that are hanging on my wall. One of them I would happily say is the best photo I’ve ever taken (some friends thought I’d sent them a scan of a postcard) and the other is a local scene, mimicking some of the popular snow shots you can get. This one often amazes people when its location is revealed as it looks totally different.
During a trip to Prague I took a lot of photos and this actually set me wondering about photography in the modern age, and in many respects, this is what the post is about as it set me pondering about the digital verses film.
Without a doubt, were it not for having a digital camera, I would not have taken so many pictures. The cost of getting over 500 photos developed would have been prohibitive. I would have still taken a lot, but I doubt I’d have tried for so many different versions. I think back to a trip to the Grand Canyon when I was much younger, before the days of digital and I certainly took quite a few rolls of film with me. Now with digital it is like the gloves are off.
It has brought some distinct advantages. In theory the wedding memories ruined by photos that haven’t really turned out right are a thing of the past. The shot can be reviewed instantly and retaken if need be. More exciting things can be done with the software available. I will regularly take shots to create a wider scale panorama image. A number of years ago I heard of a professional photographer who took a picture of a bride in her dress on a trampoline in a horizontal position. On the day of the wedding they took a picture of the groom, best man and ushers in a pose as if they had thrown the bride in the air. Merging them together created a very different wedding photo but one that would have been far harder without the software currently on the market.
However with this ability to take and retake, there has made photography, as a profession, easier for the less able photographer. I am positive that a lot of people in the profession know their stuff and would be equally at home with a film camera as the digital. There are though (and I have experience of this) some that one has to question their understanding of what does make a good photo, how to frame it etc, and they are able to maintain a living because of the ‘retake’ ability.
There are lots of photographic associations that people can belong to, but as far as I’m aware there is no universal body for national or international membership that anyone who wants to set up as a photographer has to join, or demonstrate a level of competence to. There are videos online to advice people on what equipment to have if they want to set up as a professional. It would be remiss of me not to point out there are also tutorials of how to use a camera properly as well. However in some respects this just emphasises the issue. The need to have some sort of professional training, where things that can’t be taught by the internet, can be bypassed. Anyone can be a professional photographer!
So has the digital age been a bad thing? Not necessarily. Costs have certainly come down. There is the ability for those who actually have a true flare for the craft to take part without the costs that there used to be. That has to be a positive. Better and more imaginative pictures are now possible, and the sheer number of photos that people can take is more or less unlimited. It’s not all great. The cost of having professional photos is now expensive. Part of this is that with a digital copy the recipient can make as many copies as they like! However I also suspect that there is now greater ‘competition’ in the photographic industry and rather than reduce costs, they have gone up to allow people to make a living. I was staggered at how much some of my family recently paid for such a shoot.
All in all I like digital photography. It’s enabled me to have my photos on display at home much easier, both through the ones I’ve had blown up to a canvas and being able to show a lot more on a digital photo frame. I also have a love of panorama photos, and a digitally stitched image will always look better than one held together with sticky tape on the back!