While waiting for the sky to clear this morning I started to look back at my very own picture gallery. Digitalization of photography for me has meant four main changes: 1. much cheaper costs of photographs (that is, if you don’t print them all out!) 2. ability to easily modify or adjust photograph. 3. concise storage without recourse to bulky photo albums. 4.quick transmission of photos via the WWW.
Point 1 means that just the photographs I have taken this year surpass in number all those I took until changing over to a digital camera in 2000. Point 2 means that I can crop, lighten, straighten or simply delete photographs that seem unsatisfactory to me. Point 3 is a god-send in these times where accumulation of one’s worldly goods can so easily get out of control. How many photo albums would I have acquired by now? How many more shelves filled? Point 4 is absolutely wonderful for it enables me to share experiences visually with long-distanced friends and acquaintances virtually immediately.
But there is something that digital photography makes one regret. Why wasn’t it made more available and more cheaply earlier? How I would have loved to have those snaps which were never taken – the instances are too numerous to list. The “Kodak moment” lost forever….In fact, Kodak developed and produced the world’s first digital camera in 1975 but then destroyed the prototype for fear that it might damage its film industry which, eventually it did: In 2012 Kodak was hoist by its own petard when it filed for bankruptcy. (Kodak has now re-emerged, no longer making cameras or producing films but still in the imaging field).
However, it is not enough to own a camera – one must use it! I regret not having taken more photographs of my workplace in the UK when I was there – but then it was just a workplace and not a holiday destination. I am not suggesting that we should have more pictures of us peeling spuds and fewer drinking Bacardis in an exotic sunset but humdrum day-to-day photographs of the past are usually the most interesting ones to view now. And why so many shots of famous buildings (all available on FLIKR) and so few of loved ones, lost for ever?
Incidentally, I wish it were as easy for me to find particular images on my hard drive as to find text files – tagging shots gets really tedious…
There are still many analogue photographers around who are adamant about using that medium for they say it concentrates the mind and makes one think more carefully before capturing any image. Five years ago one of these was a travel companion on my journey to Mongolia and the results he produced were far superior to mine (and I could see every picture that I had taken instantly but he had to wait until the results were returned from the developers back home!) The great photographers of the past have all been, of technological necessity, analogue photographers – Henri Cartier-Bresson, Julia Margaret Cameron, Alexander Rodchenko……
Anyway, here is my first pioneering digital photograph taken in 2000 (River Thames at Woolwich, London, if you didn’t know) on a Kodak EZ200 (“high quality” picture resolution 640 x 480 pixels (!)). It is as important in my life as that famous first-ever photograph taken by Fox-Talbot of an oriel window at Lacock Abbey back in 1835 (or 1839?).