After nearly 200 years of a rich and fascinating history, Photography is challenged at its core.
What has been the direct capture of light onto a surface is now referred to as “analog,” that signifying, a light ray recorded or used in its original form.
In digital technology, the analog ray is sampled at some interval, and then turned into numbers that are stored in the digital device.
Many see these two distinct forms of making images as mutually exclusive. One should, some think, replace one with the other, the old with the new. “Move on,” they say, “look to the future. Dump analog, make images more easily without the mess, fuss, and icky cleanup.”
I am not one of those individuals.
Photography, and the teaching of it, needs to be inclusive. My argument would be the same for any medium. Because of invention of the Wacom tablet, the pencil did not go into hiding. Because of the eBook, the book did not disappear. Because of calculators, one still must know how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide.
Reliance on computer data, storage, and dissemination of fact, is sketchy. How can one trust what is sampled? Over time, computer usage will create stiff knees and large behinds. My students, new to photo, engaged with the computer screen for hours on end, have no clue. Photographers who once had to make physical images can leave them on their smart cards and post to Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr or whatever, with no challenge to the image as art, with no object ever produced.
In educational institutions, there is the need to justify the continued teaching of direct photography, the original magic of the capture of light and made into image. Forget history, forget science, forget understanding the beginnings of our medium.
Has there ever been a time when you knew something would go sour? I remember thinking NAFTA was a disaster for our country but most fellow liberals thought I was totally misguided. The rush to dump direct photography is misguided and will be no less than calamitous.