Bill Pierce's
Nuts & Bolts 
"Old Friends and
New Equipment"
At trade shows you see old friends and new equipment.  At the recent  trade show, Photo Plus, in New York I was a little disturbed by some of  my old friends rejection of new equipment.  Essentially they said, "I'm  never going to use that digital stuff..."  There was a smaller group who  essentially said, "This digital stuff is great; I'm not going to use that  old stuff any more." 

It was like a carpenters' convention where one group said, "I'm never  going to use a hammer."   And another group said, "I'm only going to use  a hammer."  And no one said, "Let's build something."  Conventional gear  or digital gear - they are just tools.  And the day a carpenter shows up  at my house with only a hammer or refuses to use a hammer, I'm going to  fire him.  The bad news for those photographers with "digiphobia" is that  pictures have been transmitted and reproduced digitally for over a  decade.  Everybody in the racket has been using both the old film-based  technology and the newer digital technology for some time now.  They are  immutabley intertwined. 

A long time ago (the 60's), some very kind people put me on a panel at  one of the University of Miami Photojournalism Conferences.  I believed I  was to represent the "young and stupid" point of view.  Obviously others  were to represent the "old and wise" point of view.  I had not counted on  a third point of view, "old and stupid."  Several members of the audience  were worried that they would not be able to master the new, electronic  cameras and were afraid they would have to leave photojournalism or be  forced out by the younger kids who were comfortable with this new stuff.  What were they talking about?  It had to be more than built-in meters and  motor drives.  To this day those moments stand out in my mind, and I  still have no idea what those people were talking about.  But, it still  makes me terribly sad. 

I am in love with the sheer beauty of a fine silver print from film  exposed in a conventional camera by a good photographer.  I collect them,  hang them and spend a lot of time staring at them.  They bring me immense  pleasure, and I think it will be a long time before digital cameras catch  up with the quality inherent in a conventional black-and-white print.  But I also love how the newer technologies make those images and the  stories that they tell available to so many people in newspapers, magazines, books, television and the Web.  It probably was the same when  the printing press came around.  A large group of people probably said  the Guttenberg Bible just wasn't the same as the beautiful, hand-lettered and illuminated bibles that the monks over in Italy were turning out. That's correct.  But for the people who were able to read the stories in  the Bible for the first time, it probably didn't seem too important.  And  for the story tellers themselves, the more, the merrier." 

Contents PageColumns Page
Contents Page Editorials The Platypus Links Copyright
Portfolios Camera Corner War Stories  Dirck's Gallery Comments
Issue Archives Columns Forums Mailing List E-mail Us
 This site is sponsored and powered by Hewlett Packard