I haven't sat down and pushed myself to write an essay on using traditional photographic processes yet. It's important and quite frankly I'm not sure I'm ready to do the subject justice. However, something happened this week that got my wheels spinning enough to mention. I received my Summer issue/copy/whatever of the giant B and H Photo/Video catalog.
It wasn't that long ago that I myself worked at a camera store, then as a digital product and wedding photographer. I knew all the brands, the latest hardware and software, and usually what the next big thing was going to be. Here I am only a couple years removed from the digital scene and suddenly almost everything is new to me. Now, I could probably jump back in and work my way through the learning curve if I was so inclined but it makes me wonder about artists choosing to work in that medium.
History shows that many if not most great artists have worked for a time to become proficient with their chosen tools, feel comfortable with them, allow them to become an extension of their vision... and then use them to create. I wonder how one can ever really become comfortable with a technology that is so volatile and ever changing as digital imaging?
When I bought my last digital camera a newer, better and fancier model had been released long before I could claim operating it was second nature. I now use 8x10 and 4x5 view cameras that were made in the 1960s. I'm quite comfortable with their operation and am free to concentrate on art making. Sure, I could handle a few more lenses and film holders but nothing major and it won't be that long until I won't need ANYTHING else. Just film, paper and chemicals to create my photographs. As long as those materials are around I can focus on improving my art and craft and not merely keeping up with the latest technologies. Isn't that what's really important in art?
Now I realize there are plenty of people out there more intelligent than I is who can surely keep pace without breaking a sweat while others are simply different... to each his own and that's fine. I for one will stick with traditional materials, learn to use them intuitively and become a better artist for it.