With last week’s announcement of the end of Polaroid, covered on pretty much every blog and must discussed in every corner of the photo world, I have to worry that film cannot be too far behind. While Kodak is promising to make film for at least another 5 years, with Polaroid gone, it seems that many film holdouts will have no choice but to go at least partly digital. The question I am asking myself, is digital like color film? When Eggelston, Shore, Sternfeld and the other early color art photographers switched, I’m sure the B&W purists feared that their form would also disappear. B&W survived but it became a ‘niche’ instead of the dominant force in fine art photography(sorry B&W shooters out there, don’t shoot the messenger.) I know there was quite a fight over color film in the early days, and I imagine artists felt much like I do about the current debate. But perhaps it would make more sense to embrace the technology and try to make to work, rather than hold on to my love of film. Personally, I find digital too perfect and lacking the sense of emotionality that film can capture. I have yet to see work shot digitally that can compare to large format film.

Yet the argument could be made that this is the moment to rethink my aesthetic choices? Maybe the too perfect, too harsh, and too sharp look created by these camera’s computer chips, better reflects the content of our current culture. Is there any sensitivity or nuance to the national obsession with the mental and physical breakdown of Britney Spears? Do reality shows use soft lighting or turn the camera away to protect people from being seen at that worst? Part of me feels that I should be shooting to reflect that reality, but another part of me feels that I should hold out, and stay true to my vision and hope for the world. If we all give up, and give in, is there any chance for us to rise out of our culture of exploitation and celebrity obsession – I will admit to having VH1’s Celebrity Rehab DVR’d. There is something entertaining about all of this, maybe Western Culture has never really left the Colosseum?

Which is better…

B&W or Color?

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Eggelston

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Walker Evans

Film or Digital?

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Annie Leibovitz

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