The world of photography has changed, but why should we?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Sean, Dec 5, 2007.

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  1. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    I've been thinking (hey no jokes!) about the current state of photography and how my views on photography are starting to evolve. Years ago my stance was quite defensive and one of keeping traditionalists into a cohesive unit. I still believe this is a good thing and we have basically proven that we are here to stay. We've established we are here to stay so now what? The implications of our coming together can go two different ways. 1) Isolationist 2) Participationist (new word alert?). The isolationist approach means we will change, closing ourselves off to the photography world. Why should we change? I am starting to shift towards a mindset that we should be participating in the larger world of photography in a highly visible and positive fashion. The amount of energy I've wasted feeling hostile towards emerging technologies is immense and ultimately a waste. I feel that we know what we love so lets embrace it and focus on that. Today I read some info about an inkjet paper claiming to be a replacement for silver gelatin, it claimed it was even better. In the past this would have made me cringe and feel extremely agitated.. but hey, if some folks want to use this paper why should I care? We have more important things to put our energy towards than this. These new products have arrived and are not going anywhere so it's up to us to focus on what we care about and share it with others rather than gripe, become negative and inclusive. This in no way means APUG is going digital, our mission statement stands in that regard, it just means I would like to see us as part of the photo world at large. Foto3 was my first step towards guiding us down a less isolated path. The conference will be a mix of all things imaging -traditional, digital, hybrid. Traditionalists are a part of this visual ecosystem and I'm excited that we can partake in such a diverse venture. Let's show the world we are not a closed community that some make us out to be. We are active, energized, producing phenomenal work (just see the gallery and portfolios) and we are having a heap of fun. I am also branching out with new websites that further integrate us to the global imaging arena. Photocentric.tv will contain videos from all areas of imaging. I am extremely excited that soon we will be able to let others SEE what traditionalists are doing, the magic behind it and why we enjoy it so much. Greatcapture.com will also be a site packed with variety and our presence will be noticed there as well. When I think about traditional photography becoming isolationist I fear that could be the end of us. Let's continue doing what we love, let's get our work out there and show people what we do and we will flourish. What do you think?
     
  2. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Do you mean I could say "scanner" here without getting scolded to go to Hybridphoto?

    I've never understood why APUG is SO exclusive. I use film as an (dare I say it) image capture medium because I enjoy doing so - but after that I scan the negs or 'chromes and then view my pics on screen.

    Well, I guess what folk here have to decide is whether they want a "purist" site - whatever "purist" might mean.

    It'll be interesting to see how this thread "develops".
     
  3. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    The scope of APUG will not change. If you have scanner question related to posting images in the gallery that has always been allowed. If you want to talk scanners, dslr's or whatever else that's out of scope for this site. It's not about purist it's about maintaining the scope of the site. We can maintain the scope of a website without turning it into a bubble which we never venture out of.. That is what I am touching on..
     
  4. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Sean, I have greatly admired your APUG project and am very grateful to you for creating it. As such, I fully recognize your right to define its terms of reference in any way you see fit. I have however always felt that it cuts across the mission of preaching the virtues of analog materials if APUG de facto excludes, for example, pro shooters who use only color reversal material, hardly ever make a print but, when they do, use digital. Or film shooters who control printing balance and exposure digitally and then output on wet-process paper. These people are among the strongest advocates of film, they very often have extensive first-hand experience of both digital and film capture and output, and the fact that they then choose to work with film is a very powerful argument in favour of this.

    Similarly, it is, I believe, a mistake to create the impression, inadvertently or not, that analog photography automatically means monochrome, a slow contemplative approach, big cameras and cultural references looking backward into the past. Like George, I do not see the benefit of an ultra-purist approach, which can all too easily lead to a reactionary obsessive attitude. It is a very minor point, but I cannot see how banning me (a 40-year media industry veteran) from attending UK APUG events and showing my film-capture/digital-output work advances the cause of analog materials - if it has to be, what the hell, it just doesn't make any sense to me!

    Be assured in any case that I will look forward to your future ventures and support them in any way I can!

    Regards,

    David
     
  5. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Sean, I think it's a brilliant idea to try to bring traditional photography and new technology closer together, as well as the users of those techniques. I wholly agree that if we isolate ourselves from the developments 'on the other side' we will lose ground. But if we can show how much fun traditional techniques are, perhaps more hybrid and traditional work will come from that?
    You have great vision, Sean, and your name I'm sure will be associated with photography at large rather than only traditional photography. It makes sense to retain the scope of APUG as it does not ring well in my ears to skip around, but rather stand up for what we believe in. The only way to survive is to share what we love with others and introduce them to the wonders we experience.
    - Thomas
     
  6. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    I agree with some of what you are saying. It is VERY tricky to implement the perfect solution. I have always felt that exclusions are always double sided. Excluding hybrid discussions impacts folks like you yet including hybrid discussions excludes those who want a place devoid of such content. Since there are countless places to discuss digital techniques I always side with those who want 1 site that remains focused on traditional methods. It doesn't please everyone but it's what I feel works best..
     
  7. Shawn Rahman

    Shawn Rahman Subscriber

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    Well said, everyone.

    But I think APUG is necessarily exclusive. I don't think there is anything wrong with that - after all, if this wasn't an exclusively analog site, its very reason for existing wouldn't be there.

    But we can be a purist site for analog photography and still embrace the great advances, ease, and reach that digital brings to the photography world. I have two digital cameras, and love them, but I don't PS my digital photos beyond contrast and sharpness (no manipulation of content).

    I like and respect digital, but I just simply love my analog cameras and methods more. I've never understood the unreasonable aversion to digital. It is simply untrue, as many on this site will argue unreasonably, that digital is inherently inferior as an image making medium. It's just a matter of what we personally prefer to use.
     
  8. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I try to be active on other sites, presenting the work I do with traditional methods, and those sites seem very welcoming. Mike Johnston asked if he could make one of my LF posts a main entry on his blog and posted it today. Asher Kelman has been trying to drum up some interest on the LF forum to have more traditional and LF photographers in the mix on his Open Photography Forums, so I drop in there occasionally. I continue to participate in the LF forum as I did before APUG existed. From time to time I look in on the Rangefinder Forum.

    Absolutely, I think people who are doing work with film and printing traditionally should be active outside of APUG. That has nothing to do with changing the mission of APUG itself.
     
  9. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Member

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    Exactly. I have absolutely no problem with anyone using digital anything nor do I isolate myself from it. APUG, however, is a welcome reprieve from the ubiquitous onslaught of the digital photography world and the one place you can discuss traditional work with others of a similar mindset. Thanks Sean and best of luck. Shawn
     
  10. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    Great stuff David :smile:
     
  11. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    I cannot agree more Sean. Since the Foto3 announcement I have been participating and reading more in a couple other forums and was very surprised to find the animosity towards the greater APUG community as a whole. Granted... it is to be expected from some of the usual suspects and I do not think their minds will change, but still the general stereotype attached to APUG is not a good one. I think your idea of a more open approach can do nothing but good. I am with David as well. Being a good citizen elseware and promoting traditional work without an elitist or confrontational chip on your shoulder can help a lot in winning souls.

    Bill
     
  12. rusty71

    rusty71 Member

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    Ok I'll just say it. I detest the word "Capture". Sounds like you're either going on Safari or out killing vermin.
    It's a photograph! Part of the problem with digital is the obsession with NewSpeak. Perhaps capture is a word to be used solely for digital cameras. Reminds me of the Bonehead at Washington University who wanted to offer classes in Video. He decided the term "Video Art" was too prosaic. He called the class "Kinetic Imaging". No students signed up because no one knew what the Hell the class was about! His next big idea was to call the Photography School the "Department. of Optical Arts."
    I have no problems with digital photography. It's just nice to have a spot where digital is not the only game in town and someone has to tell us why his new D300 is the best Ego Trip ever purchased. Keep the ANALOG in APUG!
     
  13. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    There have always been those here who for one reason or another have had to mix traditional photography with digital methods. This includes people who shoot and develop b&w film but do not have the means or resources to print traditionally. For those people, whose dedication to film cannot be questioned, living in both worlds is a necessity that allows them to continue to shoot film.

    For them and many others who shoot film, this is just as much a refuge as it is for those of us who shoot and develop film and print in the darkroom. Giving a nod of acceptance to those folks is a good thing and in no way changes the mission of the site! I do think it was forward-thinking of you to set up the hybrid site and to foresee branching out into other areas.

    Great thoughts, Sean!
     
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  15. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    I think to me the most important part of APUG was the UG part: Users Group. A group of people who USE film, regardless of whatever else they do with their life, be it collecting butterflies or shooting digital.

    Instead of being perceived as defensive people, we should be perceived as enthusiasts.
     
  16. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    It is a strange one. There is no denying it's popularity though, nearly 2.6 million hits on yahoo and growing. I see it as more of a fun slang that's become popular. I've sat on the domain for almost 4yrs and now have some good ideas to make use of it..
     
  17. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    Seems to me that with APUG, HYBRIDPHOTO, GREATCAPTURE and PHOTOCENTRIC you've encompassed the future of photography. All that remains is for these sites to flourish ("build it and they will come".)

    Lets not forget the roots of APUG. It fills a need as much today as it did 5 years ago. The New World of photography is not somewhere everyone wants to go.

    As David mentions there are a lot of sites to fill your belly from. It's a matter of whether or not you want to partake.

    It is not Isolationist versus Participationist but knowing who we are. Perhaps it is Traditionalist versus the Avant Garde.
     
  18. Kino

    Kino Member

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    Sean, no need to change APUG.

    Yeah, a lot of people are somehow offended that we don't drop our total film stance and assimilate into the binary cloud, but, as you say, there are many places to for them to visit; don't change the basic substance and philosophy of the site!

    As I told a person who constantly complained on another web board, "Feel free to leave, the door is not locked".
     
  19. Paul_C

    Paul_C Member

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    APUG fills a niche in the same was dpreview does; it's just a different, though related, niche. I've got a ton of great info on analog photography here that I'd never get there and vice versa. Keeping this site about film is nothing more than keeping it on topic.

    The important thing to realize is that while two people might do things differently that doesn't make either of them somehow wrong. Everyone does things differently. There is no "us" or "them".

    [ot]
    Film grain is binary.
    [/ot]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 6, 2007
  20. Kino

    Kino Member

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    I was trying to avoid saying digital to keep the hits on that word to a minimum on this site, but there, I said it.

    happy?
     
  21. sun of sand

    sun of sand Member

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    Is this like when White Man began giving Natives their own land to live upon tax free?
    We like you, Indian
    You live here, you pay nothing
    Us friends


    Who goes to the reservations? I mean, we go there for cigs, jewelry and gas, sure
    You know, we cool ...like that.
    Still segregated.

    A whole pile of new sites dedicated to ...
    What exactly IS hybrid? Now were making new groups that I'll never be a part of in an attempt to bring us together?
    I really don't get it. Isn't less more? It saves a lot of time and is much more friendly to meet in one spot and talk about what is essentially the same process ..the process of making photographs.
    If a forum needs to exist to be able to FIND discussions on a certain topic without wading through thousands of others
    Cool
    Completely separate places miles away from one another/few clicks of a mouse before you can even have a chance to communicate? Clique Creation.


    Digital only reminds US of how poorly we shared our passion in the first place. We blew it. Who here believes digital photography will not lead to a greater number of talented photographers than film ever did? Teens on myspace are asking about DSLR's which they have NO use for at the time being. $1000+ and they don't even scratch the surface before the next cool item comes out. Man, Azo would have been safe if handled better.

    Digital people aren't stupid. We just didn't teach em. Can't be mad at THEM. Film just ain't cool and perhaps never has been.
    All this UNITY stuff seems more like "we better convert some digifolk so that film has a legit chance of staying alive" rather than truly caring about the digital world of photography
    Sounds like an old, grumpy man trying to hang with the grandkids near his death so there will be record of his existence for generations to come


    One thing is true
    To make film better you have to teach the digital generation
    That means putting up with them
    Apug is here mostly because we don't want to put up with them. Apug wants digifolk to "see the light" and then come on over
    Fat chance of big numbers there.


    Societal revolution brought us the digital revolution
    Who is up for tackling that? Right.
     
  22. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Sean:

    I was glad to read your post initiating this thread.

    I believe there is a fundamental difference between limiting digital discussion on APUG, in order to protect and enhance APUG, and opposing the "digitalization" of the mainstream, everyday photographic world.

    The former helps keep APUG focussed, and enjoyable, for those who choose to participate here. It also increases the value of APUG as a resource.

    The latter is just trying to hold back the tide.

    Focus on the pro-active, and protect it with the exclusive.

    Matt
     
  23. Jedidiah Smith

    Jedidiah Smith Member

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    Sounds interesting, but I do have a question. How many people have time to check all those sites? Maybe I'm just uncommonly busy for some reason...but I barely have enough time to check APUG, and Photo.net - that's only 2 sites! And now you're going to make three more...

    I'm just trying to figure out why you want to split it all up? Why dilute your user base and therefore your revenue base from advertisers, etc looking to capture a lot of market share? Look at Photo.net as an example. They cover everything on one site. I am a paying member there, and here. They have a LOT more user base than we do here. I like APUG better in ways, because it fits my style (manual Minolta gear, darkroom, etc), but there's no denying the userbase of Photo.net, and having everything all in one place.
    Just coming at you from the other way, not meaning to be contrary to your idea with all the different domains; just making everyone think about it.
    Jed
     
  24. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    It is possible to be 100% analog (personally and as a web presence) without trying to convert anyone else to your cause. We visit here to ask or answer questions or just chat with people with similar interests. Trying to convert a digital user to analog will be just as annoying to them as we find the digital users who try to convert us.

    As Sean said, we should get on with what we want to do without worrying what other people are doing or being derisive of what they are doing.


    Steve.
     
  25. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
    And sorry I could not travel both
    And be one traveler, long I stood
    And looked down one as far as I could
    To where it bent in the undergrowth.

    Then took the other, as just as fair,
    And having perhaps the better claim,
    Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
    Though as for that the passing there
    Had worn them really about the same.

    And both that morning equally lay
    In leaves no step had trodden black.
    Oh, I kept the first for another day!
    Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
    I doubted if I should ever come back.

    I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.


    For me traditional photography, wet darkroom;film;paper;chemicals, is my choice. If it were to disappear I would take digital snapshots and turn my entire artistic effort to graphic design and painting. You see the process does matter.
     
  26. Ian Leake

    Ian Leake Subscriber

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    APUG is possibly the only place on the web where it's possible to have a sensible discussion about film-related processes without ignorant people making foolish comparisons or "helpful" suggestions about digital processes. I see no need for APUG to change (although I do regret the segregation of digital negatives for alt printing because this has fragmented the alt process knowledge base - unnecessarily in my opinion).

    But analogue photographers should not, no MUST not, be introverted and disengaged from the rest of the photographic world. Denying the existence (and benefits) of digital processes is pointless and damaging to analogue photography. The mantra of, “it’s not archival, it’s manipulated, it’s not for me,” is pointless and makes analogue photographers look like a sad bunch of out of touch reactionaries. A much more positive stance is required.

    Online, analogue processes will always have a weaker hand than digital because it’s so much harder to reproduce a good print digitally than it is to Photoshop a good digital capture. But in the real world analogue has the advantage: so people who are passionate about analogue processes must engage with the real world. That means making the best prints we can and then showing them to people. Exhibit them, hold an “open house” show, share them with friends, give them to colleagues at work. Learn to explain why analogue is a fantastic medium without denigrating digital. Be positive and market analogue. Allow our enthusiasm to be infectious.

    The future of film is bright – but only if we, film photographers, promote it positively.
     
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