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."
Nuts & Bolts
"Old Friends and
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
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."