Photography is going through its second great social transition. The first was the development of hand cameras and the first Kodak--you push the button and we do the rest. The technical expertise required to practice photography was significantly lowered and photography became accessible to nearly everyone. Pictorialism was a reaction to the mass production of photography and and an attempt to emphasize craftsmanship and establish photography as a fine art.

The issue today isn't digital itself, but the reduction of the required technical expertise for the practice of photography to essentially zero. Digital enabled the easy and instantaneous production of photography along with the means to easily alter the image. In digital, everything is infinitely malleable. Digital also enabled the rise of social media to create a visible stream for this mass production of images. It's human nature to attract attention--hence the rise of bad HDR and other forms of grotesque manipulation needed to rise above the noise of the image stream. The starving off of arts education and the suppression of the value of the arts in our culture guarantees the domination of a kitsch aesthetic.

Teaching and demonstrating wet plate collodion, I emphasize that photographers should freely draw on every photographic process just as other artists choose from a rich and diverse set of processes. The good news is that the same forces that created the image stream are driving many serious photographers back into what we foolishly term "historical processes".