My love of photography stems from our family Polaroid camera. At age about 8, I didn’t really know what I was doing with it but I loved the buzz of the image popping out of the camera and the how mesmerising is was to watch and wait for the moment passed to reappear.
I recall how frustrating it was at secondary school to know there was a darkroom space not in use and how I really wanted to know what was in the dark.
Then college beckoned and finally a fascination with photography blossomed. I feel fortunate to have had a grounding in traditional photographic techniques; to have learnt about the science and the magic of photography in rooms whose aromas have become intrinsically linked to memories of discovery, frustrations and fun.
This week, we have considered how digital has transformed photography. Tutor Gary McLeod’s transcript quoted Grant Scott as saying, “There are no national boundaries within the new landscape. It is a landscape made up of online communities based around forums, podcasts, social media, crowdfunding (the process of funding a project through online donations from people engaged with your concept), crowdsourcing (the process of gaining creative and technical help from like-minded professionals online), live streaming, and blogs, as well as an engaged community based around festivals, debates, seminars, and exhibitions.”
And yes, having been part of the time when digital began to boom, you cannot escape the impact it has had on the medium.
When not concentrating on making images with alternative photographic processes, I often employ my iPhone as my go to camera, with my 35mm digital kit normally turned to for weddings. But using post-production software has proven to be of huge benefit in disseminating work quickly and effectively for promotional purposes.
Being the type of image-maker/photo-artist who has never been hung up on what equipment I have, I find it reassuring that applauded photographers such as Nick Knight and Damon Winter have both used their smartphones for professional commissions.
The sentence from our tutor, “The result of this digital revolution, however, is that photographers are no longer defined by their equipment but by their photographs, their product”, in my opinion holds true [McLeod, 2017].
And although my passion leans towards analogue and alternative processes, I am keen to keep abreast of the possibilities digital can offer – particularly in how work is shared. Digital allows for this blog to reach a wider audience than without; having a website allows me to show the world my work from the comfort of my office; social media enables conversations and collaborations to evolve; the internet has opened up a world of knowledge (regardless of how it is misused by some).
Having lived before the rise of digital, including its early influence while I worked as a medical photographer to my time as a journalist where online storytelling became part of my repertoire, I am glad to have experience of both sides and to be able to make the most of both.
For the past six years I have been concentrating on making work with the types of processes I discovered when I first really found photography. I could see back then that interest was growing among the digital generation in ‘old skool’ techniques and it has been fabulous to see film, instant film, traditional and alternative photography have a renaissance. Now I believe we are at a stage where the older and the newer can happily rub shoulders; one is not better than the other – a photographer/image-maker/photo-artist (you choose you title) has the magic of photography at their digital and non-digital fingertips.