In praise of photography

How cheap has photography become? So cheap that we don’t even have to pause and breath before snapping. We don’t have to frame, compose, breath art and life into a shot because hey, a photo is just a downloadable photo close to free except for the printer paper and ink. Now try explaining to a 12 year old what’s the point in presenting him with a Contax T2, top of the line compact camera when I bought it in 1991. My young friend just shrugged and said what a waste of money–to spend on film? And what if the picture doesn’t come out–wasted money! Now how do I explain to him that the joy of picture taking came with this gamble. You put your heart and soul into capturing the feelings that a scene or a person before your eyes evoked in you. Back in the 1880s just as cameras were taking off the Impressionist painters sensed that lifelike realistic paintings were no competition with the camera so artists painted in ways that the camera could never replicate–deliberately blurring shapes, breaking shapes down into dots of color, revising nature in rainbow colors. A little more than a century later, we artists can sleep well knowing that the digital camera can never replace the foundation of fine art — painting and drawing — because time and uncertainty — the mystery of creating without any guarantee that what we see or feel can be expressed in a predetermined way. That Contax to me represented the last link to authentic creativity and intuitive photography. I think I’m going to take the camera out for a spin in the park real soon. It’s time to appreciate it’s existence in my life once more and reflect on the possibility that one day camera film may become obsolete.

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