More Film vs. Digital in a Big Way

Beloved alerted me to a great rant by the Great Ranter himself, Danny Lyon on his blog Dektol.  In the great tradition of the film vs. digital debate, Mr. Lyon brings up several great points about the transition of our great society to a digital one in this age of information:

It is the acceptance of, and our insistence on this instant expendable experience that is the core of the rot that is bringing down the civilization we used to call home. This insatiable desire to own, and show off on the subway, to upgrade, and upgrade and upgrade, until you don’t have enough money left to buy a beach towel without going into debt, has reduced people to slaves of consumption.

On his experience viewing his father’s photo albums:

Though the paper pages have become brittle, I can still look through these albums, and most of the pictures look pretty much like they did when he put them inside eighty five years ago. I am his son. I am touching, and holding and looking at, and smelling something my father made with his eyes and hand, when he was younger than I and all my four children are today. He was then a young man I never knew, but I can see what he saw, and can own and can touch what he made.

Couched in humor, with a very present anger, this post is a perfect primer for humor and tragedy being inexorably intertwined. Check it out here.

3 thoughts on “More Film vs. Digital in a Big Way

  1. I’m beginning to wonder if this whole “film vs digital” conversation is time well spent by all. Why isn’t it “film OR digital”? Do we want to be known as the generation whose “great tradition,” as you call it was, to argue about the “best” means of capturing the moment?
    John Szarkowski once wrote “photography was born whole.” If you believe that, as I do, then the changes in the hardware since the beginning are really superfluous to the feelings, emotions, stories, documentations and so on that photography, however practiced, has always produced.
    I respect those who miss the craftsmanship of the darkroom and the silver print, but must that honest feeling be tied up in a debate of any kind?
    I have a lot of cameras. I shoot film and digital. I shoot instant film too, I like the tones and unexpectedness. As I shoot and study, share and learn, always after that image that gives me (and hopefully, some others) that special feeling that only comes when what is within the frame coalesces in a harmony of light and shadow, subject and emotion, if I am to worry or doubt my validity on the basis of what equipment and methods I sometimes use, I think that is most unfortunate.


    • Did you read Lyon’s blog entry? For me it wasn’t really film vs. digital per se – but the endless upgrading of digital cameras, materials, os xes that come with it that ensure at the end of the day nothing against the obsolescence of your digital files. Kind of like there is some digital industrial complex out there. Plus I found the way Lyons couched his argument to be most amusing, perhaps because I too want to boink over the head all the earbud wearing head bobbing inured masses.


  2. Very rarely I’d want to express a p.o.v. on these subjects, but I don’t really care what photographs are made on, I’ve come to appreciate them each for their own qualities.. (I do miss 4/5 pola b&w). I do think the photographers coming up today and only ever using digital, have missed an understanding of certain qualities inherit with film and print-making. They probably don’t care too much about the rich history of photography; I still find great joy and sometimes revelation in going over Avedon’s portraits.
    We’re in a world where instant communication has become some sort of necessary norm.. along with running into people on the street preoccupied with the screen in their hands.


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