Something I’ve been noticing in a lot of postings lately is a nostalgia to return to the analog world vs our current immersion in the digital world. It makes a lot of sense to me because at my age (And I’m 61, folks…) I’ve seen the best of both analog and digital worlds. I may not have seen the “Best” of the digital world because that is continuously evolving and one never knows what to expect next. However, my focus is on photography and I can guarantee that I’ve seen the best of that analog world (Just think Ansel Adams, for one). I’m referring to, of course, the world of film cameras and old time in the darkroom processing of film and prints. There is really nothing better than having a print of a subject you’ve photographed.
One of the articles I viewed this week were (Surprisingly) from a young blogger of the milleneal age who has made it his mantra to return to a more physical form of photography. Eric Kim, (Erick Kim Photography) very well known Bay Area street photographer is always blogging on the value of getting out and doing real photography, interacting with real people, printing real prints and photographing with the purpose of satisfying one’s own self and not so much worrying about what others think. I’ve always enjoyed his approach to photography and especially his philosophy. But he’s got a great approach. And while I still hope you are on MY blog posting, I will say that I don’t hesitate to put up links to REAL photographers who photograph with purpose and who are well grounded in what photography is really all about.
For me, when I read that photography is best appreciated by the viewing of a real photographic print, I have to agree. Along those same lines I have to give a mental fist pump when I read about people who appreciate holding and reading a paper book vs. a Kindle or other device. Nothing says it better than a print. So often we (And I’m assuming a lot when I say “WE” – thinking that anyone younger than 50 is reading this) are photographing digitally, images are processed in the camera (Jpeg processing), uploaded to the cloud, viewed on Fb, Twitter, via instant message or email – no matter how you do it, here today and gone tomorrow. We don’t value our digital images.
I find it hard to value my own digital image photos when all I do is view them on some digital media device. I just spent more than a week uploading photos to my Flickr account. I’m as immersed in the digital world as much as anyone, really. I spent that week uploading some 6500 images. I’m not complaining, though. Backup is a necessity and it makes posting your images a whole lot easier. Some people collect and upload tens of thousands of images to their digital account of choice. Nothing wrong with that but will anyone ever really see what they are producing? For me, the more images I have on my computer, the more they seem to die. Perhaps it’s just a consequence of the digital age, that we must have tens of thousands of images in our repertoire just because we can. It really matters not. But what does really count is the printed image.
If you have a great image and you practice the art of photography then find a way to get your image printed and placed into some viewable space. Why diminish an image’s grandeur by viewing it on a PC, tablet or cellphone screen, washed out by ambient light or marred by a myriad of reflections? Or hemmed in by menus, icons and opened files. Put it on the wall! Mount it, put it somewhere so you can let it speak to you on a frequent basis. Prints have mood swings and depending on how they are lit speak to you differently all the time.
Abstract images and fine art beg to be hung so they will reveal the nuances of their content – things you may not have noticed before. You’ve got great shots that are important to you sitting on your computer or phone right now. Get to printing and surround yourself with your printed images. Printed images will lift your spirits and motivate you to photograph more. We don’t load film, develop prints or send off to the lab and wait for our results to come back anymore these days. And don’t get me wrong here because there is some joy to posting on social media. But the joy is transitory compared to what a real, physical print will do for you. I encourage you to get back to printing your images and finding some greater enjoyment in your photography.