Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Photographic pondering

Going through 30 year old photographs isn't just nostalgia-inducing, but it also makes me question my own photography.
Of the many pictures I go through, the ones that I find most fascinating are the ones with people as subject. There are many, many landscapes, scenery, birds, cats and other animals, but none of those catch my eye as the people photographs.
So what am I photographing now? In the beginning it was mostly what I think is the most boring of the pictures I go through now, flower-macros, landscapes, sunsets... Luckily I've adjusted my goals a bit and photograph more people now, but beyond that there is another question that has awoken inside me.
One of the things that struck me about these images is how well they have lasted. Most are probably more than 20 years old, and they still hold incredible detail, even when compared to images taken today with modern DSLRs. And even more when compared to digital cameras from the time they started coming into popular use.
And what of the images taken with the first digital cameras? How many images have not been lost in computer crashes, harddrive malfunctions or just simply archived on CD or DVD and then forgotten about? And when they are found, will future generations even be able to know what these discs are, how to access the files, or even be able to open the file formats with the computers of the future? Luckily the JPEG file format is widespread to be relatively future proof, but the digital RAW files are often proprietary and are at the mercy of manufacturers to maintain compatibility.
Not many people think about it nowadays with online picture galleries and social networking sites, but it's a very good idea to occasionally look through your photos and get them printed on actual photo paper. Not only will they last through your next harddrive crash, but it will give you perspective on your own photography to see your pictures printed. Digital photography also meant the big economical obstacle of photography itself, the film developing, was removed, bringing with it an abundance of digital imagery. With digital photo libraries containing possibly tens of thousands of pictures, we could soon be unable to even get a proper overview of our images. By occasionally culling and selecting only the best to be printed we are consciously critiquing our own images, thereby, hopefully, becoming better photographers in the process.
And while reviewing and grading our own pictures, maybe we will gain some insight into what is important to us personally. What kind of images we want to leave after us, what our future, grown up, children will be interested in seeing of our daily lives, and what kind of pictures will we want to retain to reminisce over when we are old.

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