This is your last chance to pre-order your Petzval Lens and get the special aperture plates included for free! With estimated delivery in August (or even sooner), don’t miss out on securing your picture perfect portrait lens!

Have an account? Login | New to Lomography? Register | Lab | Current Site:

Contemporary Film Photography – A year of shooting Film

Why I am a film photographer.

Is the concept of being a contemporary film photographer an oxymoron? How can you be a contemporary artist using an old medium of expression such as film? What does it mean to be a contemporary film photographer? I would argue that it is not the tool being used that makes a piece of art contemporary; it is the image that is contemporary or not contemporary. Indeed, the medium in not the message, or is it? Was Marshal McLuhan right, “the medium is the message”? Does a digital photo carry the same authenticity as film? We have learned to distrust the digital image, we have been duped by the digital image, “fake” digital content. When you include the sprocket holes or the edges of you medium format film you are making a statement, “this is an analogue image”. This is one reason for choosing film over digital, authenticity.

Photo by akula

For me using film makes the most sense when I am using it to do things a digital sensor can’t. For example When I use an 8”x10” piece of photo paper in a pinhole camera I know there is no digital sensor that is as large and bendable as that negative. When I take a candle to a piece of film and the viewer sees those sprocket holes, this is an authentic distortion to the film itself; the process becomes an important aspect of that final image. The medium starts to take on a role in the narrative.

Film itself is not contemporary; the content of the image is what will be viewed as “contemporary art”. It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to create contemporary art on the aesthetic alone. This takes us back to the concept of the “message”. Some would argue that conceptual photography is where contemporary art is at right now. The “Vancouver School” of Photo-Conceptualism including Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham, Stan Douglas, Ian Baxter… these artists could be considered on the leading edge of contemporary art. What’s the next big thing, what will contemporary art look like tomorrow? Of course I don’t know however, however it is something worth looking for when one points a camera and pushes the shutter release. I have been a “Lomographer” for just over a year now, I am pleased with the images I have produced and keep moving forward as an artist. The invention of photography did not kill the painting, and I believe the digital sensor will not kill film photography.

written by akula

8 comments

  1. rooftophoto

    rooftophoto

    very nice post =) Thanks

    about 1 month ago · report as spam
  2. sirio174

    sirio174

    Surely contemporary film photography is not Street Photography. And this is a pity. The famous "social" French school seem extinct (who are the young photographer that continue the tradition made by Lartigue, Doisneau, Boubat, Izis, Cartier Bresson and Ronis?). I don't know any living French photographer that continues this tradition, why? Same for the "Robert Frank" school (The Americans, From the bus, etc.), or for the straight photography of Walker Evans. Most of the illustrated magazines hosts almost exclusively fashion photography or war reportages. No more interest in social life, in candid photography. However, this is a very important part of this art. We need to return on the street to document ordinary life (preferably continuing the tradition of using b/w film with normal cameras - without pictorialists effects). A normal SLR, or a rangefinder, few lens (28, 50, 135mm) and many b/w films... this kind of photography is timeless!

    about 1 month ago · report as spam
  3. herbert-4

    herbert-4

    Excellent blog entry!! I think my next project will be photos in UVA. I have an uncoated quartz lens and a #403 filter. Do you have any suggestions for blue+ sensitive films? I have some Cinestill tungsten and some Tri-X...

    about 1 month ago · report as spam
  4. akula

    akula

    @herbert-4 Thanks for liking my blog. Your #403 filter is an odd one, I have no experience with, are you doing some forensics work? It will be interesting to see what kind of images you get from it.

    about 1 month ago · report as spam
  5. herbert-4

    herbert-4

    I'm planning to photograph flowers for the bee landing instructions for pollen and nectar, people and things for UV absorbtion and reflection. The #403 filter is really black and passes only 320-380nm UVA. The lens coating on lenses from 1950's on blocks UV for better contrast. The fused quartz lens has no coating and no metal bearing glass, so passes everything at about 80-85% and focuses beyond infinity for UV.

    about 1 month ago · report as spam
  6. akula

    akula

    @sirio174 you comment on my June 15th blog sparked a new blog. I too miss traditional street photography. I also admire photographers such as yourself that can approach people, chat with them and take their picture. However the courts in Canada, and in other countries as well, have killed traditional street photography.

    about 1 month ago · report as spam
  7. sirio174

    sirio174

    @akula If you observe the photos of Cartier Bresson, people are almost always of being photographed. And the great Italian photographer Berengo Gardin took candid images, always making sure to be seen, and then asking permission to publish the photos. In my opinion the problem is not the law, but the fragmentation of society, and the lack of empathy between the photographer and people.

    about 1 month ago · report as spam
  8. sirio174

    sirio174

    ... almost always aware of being photographed (errata corrige) ;)

    about 1 month ago · report as spam