This is a paper I wrote for my English course about the downfall of photography with the digital revolution and its resurgence in modern times.
It is all too apparent that the battle cry of this generation is about instant gratification and technological advances. While some of these advances are good, others have selfishly replaced great things with no regard or remorse for the things they selfishly replaced. One of these tragic casualties is that of analogue photography. With digital photography anyone can be a “professional” they boast. Although film cameras are a relic of the past to many in this day and age, the digital photography revolution has destroyed the romantic and artistic aspects of photography.
The first photograph ever captured was in 1822, long before the days of facebook, Ipods, or automobiles, and it was so technologically advanced it shocked the world. The thought of being able to capture a split second in time was, and still is, astounding. From this point on, news was no longer word of mouth, and could actually be captured as it was happening. Within its first decades of existence its popularity grew exponentially.
By the early 1900’s the popularity of photography put a camera into the hands of anyone who could afford it, cementing its place in America’s consumer culture. With nowhere to go but up, the photography industry became huge business. As cameras were produced individuals discovered how they could manipulate their cameras, settings, lights and other free radicals to produce a finished product with breathtaking results, thus the art form began.
As photography increased in popularity, professional photography became a well respected career. The f/64 group was created during this period to promote a new, Modernist aesthetic to photography. It consisted of seven of the best and most iconic photographers of the late 1920’s, and their ground breaking work is still highly regarded today. This school of aesthetic opposed all former views of photography and worked to propel its popularity to the American public.
The use as film as a medium during this development phase was key. Before film many other types of mediums were used like metal and glass plated lined with paper. These mediums compromised the quality of the exposures and often did not expose at all. When film became popularized its low price and outstanding reproduction qualities made it an instant success and film became the longest surviving photographic medium.
There was no question against the photographic success of film until the beginning of the twenty first century. At first the threat was regarded as a novelty but, little did anyone know the digital revolution would shake the photography world to its core. Semi-affordable digital cameras were introduced on the market around 1998, but due to their limited memory capacity and poor picture quality it was generally thought to be a fluke. With the advancements of the next ten years, film suffered losses of 90% of revenue with the ease and convenience of digital photography.
Although digital photography reflects the aesthetic values of our society with its “Any idiot can do it/instant gratification” outlook, you must realize something was lost in this transition.
Before, if you took a picture, you prayed it came out how you wanted. Today on the other hand, you upload it on the computer and make it a distant relative to the original picture. This is a crime to those who spent their lives and risked their limbs perfecting this art, and we turned a blind eye to them. With digital photography you lose the warmth and personal touches that would “make” the picture yours. All the subtle adjustments in analogue photography which took years to master are now only a few clicks away. Sure, it’s a lot easier than devoting your life, when all you need is a few seconds, but an art, and life style died in this revolution.
Recent years have showed a resurgence in analogue photography, but nothing like its glory days. Some people realized that digital just couldn’t capture what film could and converted back, others chose ease over quality. While some argue digital photography revolutionized the art, I feel it destroyed the romantic and technical aspects of a once great art.