Has the digital age and social media compromised the integrity of photography? There is plenty of debate on this topic and without wanting to start further polemical conversations, I would venture to say that to some extent yes, digital photography and social media (especially social media) has affected the quality of photography in our day and age.
Nowadays, purchasing a semi-professional camera is something within just about everyone’s reach. With our handy memory cards it is easy to fill, format and repeat. The newest generation is being taught to measure all kinds of worth (even self-worth) based on how many likes any given moment in life receives, and society is being literally flooded with images, news, videos each and every day. What are the consequences of all of these developments? We lose patience and our photographic vision becomes skewed by the “street photography” images with the most likes and views that we are fed in quick succession every time we look up a related topic on Google, Flickr, Facebook, etc.
So what is the solution to all of this? How can we maintain our integrity as photographers? How can we contribute something substantial this genre called street photography? One way I would suggest is to take things back to the basics. Street photography is just that after all, a form of photography. So what kind of a photographer are you? Do you understand the science behind your camera or are you just really good at altering so-so images in Photoshop? Take an honest look at yourself, find areas in which you can improve as a photographer, and then work on them.
You’ll also need to cultivate patience and rely on your own “artistic vision.” One powerful way to do this is to shoot film. As Brad Chippington remarked in Issue 8 of SPM, “The discipline of shooting 36 frames is ultimately different to the potentially unlimited capacity of memory cards, forcing one to approach their subject in a different way, monitoring their surroundings, adjusting camera settings accordingly, as each frame is crucial and requires patience.” Well said. Shooting film will force you to think on a much deeper level about your surroundings, your camera settings and your subjects or potential subjects. It will help you to cultivate patience and create photographs that are real and true. As Brad believes, you will be able to photograph something organic with an organic approach.
Hopefully you to can see the value of dedicating some time to shooting with film, even if you just do it as a side project. To wrap up this article, here are a couple of the shots Brad shared with us in Issue 8 from “The 35mm Project“, a street photography project created on film, which upholds his belief that photography is best shot on film.
Agfa APX 100
Kodak Potra 800 pushed to 1600
All Images Copyright Brad Chippington