February 20, 2012

Photography Is Changing

Photo by Scott Bourne – 2012

The Internet is abuzz – people are concerned – photography is changing.

Kodak is no longer making cameras – or Kodachrome for that matter. Lytro has developed a camera that lets you focus in post. Experts predict that photo journalism as we know it is a dying craft since so-called “citizen journalists” report with their smart phones. The traditional stock photography market is all but dead, replaced with a business that pays photographers pennies where it used to pay them hundreds – even thousands of dollars. Still cameras now almost all shoot very high-quality video. Thousands of professional film labs are out of business leaving just a few national labs that specialize in digital printing.

I could go on and on and on if I wanted to, but it’s not necessary. Yes, photography is changing. And here’s something you should know – there’s NOTHING new about that. Photography has been changing since it was invented.

It started with the camera obscura, then the Daguerreotype, then Henry Fox Talbot invented the negative to positive paper process. There were also tintypes, wet plate negatives, dry plate negatives, sheet film, roll film, black and white, then color, then positive film. And let’s not forget the hardware. We went through box cameras, flashlight powder, flashbulbs, filters, instant photos, disposable cameras and yes even the digital camera.

I’m just scraping the surface here. I haven’t even mentioned all the various forms of photography such as street photography, landscape photography, art photography, sports photography. And then there’s all the various styles of the masters from people like Paul Strand, Gordon Parks, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, Minor White, and more.

As you can see, even though this is a very brief list of photographic change it provides abundant evidence that photography is always changing. To me, that’s a good thing. I am older than most of you – yet this medium still captivates me and has captivated me since I was 14 years old. I firmly believe that one of the reasons for that is simply my ability to count on it to change and become more interesting.

If you’re one of those who sits and grumbles at every new technology or technique, take some real time to study the true history of photography. You’ll see what I’m talking about and hopefully that will free you up to embrace the change, not fight it.


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