In the replies of a Twitter post of me moaning about not owning garage space for my motorcycle, there was somehow a heated exchange on the favourite subject of photographers everywhere: film vs. digital. Predictably, there can be no winner. We all lose this debate. It’s a practise in Mutually Assured Frustration.
As opposed to taking sides, I usually observe in typical Canadian fashion, wait for the smoke to clear, and know the world will remain unchanged for this exchange of ideas.
I get that some folks make a sport out of semantics, debating its own sake. I get that others prefer to rely on intuition and hunches to validate their rose-colored observations. Both of these sort of people lose when they enter into an exchange of ideas, especially with each other. Perhaps, there’s room for all of us to be blissfully ignorant.
It came down to views on photography which were objective and subjective, respectively. Science vs. Art. At the end of the day, I don’t care how you get to your final image. I don’t care about your process, your post-process or how they are painfully and obviously superior to anyone else’s. At the end of the day, the image is what speaks loudest. This is the same reason I started CritGroup, to exchange ideas and experience in the hopes of helping our peers grow as image makers. We gain nothing by infighting.
The truth of the matter is that cheap, high quality digital imaging has brought ever more people into the
bloodsport hobby than anything since Eastman (Kodak) when they said “you press the button, we do the rest“. Up until that time, photography was for the pedant, the amateur chemist, the perfectionist.
Happily enough, digital photography has brought many people back into film, and introduced a whole generation into film for the very first time. Digital has kept film alive, like it or lump it. We now get to choose, and companies like Ferrania, Impossible and Ilford have embraced the resurgence, even while Fuji and Kodak have mostly abandoned ship. I choose to shoot a technically inferior descendant of a 1920’s camera design, but I thank digital photography in part for the opportunity to buy fresh 120 film for it.
I use a hybrid workflow at the moment, eschewing the darkroom for a cheap flatbed transparency scanner. Being able to choose this route among all the others we’re lucky to have at our disposal is a blessing not known at any point in the history of photography thus far. I can shoot MF digital, I can shoot fresh sheet film, I can enjoy small-sensor pocket cameras or some of the 35mm legends.
Friends, it’s a bountiful time to be a photographer. Let’s not lose sight of that fact while arguing about how great we have it.