Has the advent of digital photography been a good thing for the art form?

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Yes, an incredibly good thing. I photographed with film for many years; now that I work in digital, the difference is enormous. The quality is unbelievable: I don’t use flash, and with digital I can even work in very bad light. Also, it’s a relief not to lose photographs to x-ray machines in airports.

— Sebastião Salgado

via The Guardian.

There Are 15 Comments On This Article.

  1. Gord Iversen

    Not sure if making a task easier, quicker and far more accessible on demand is “good” for an art form. An art form requires patience, dedication and a little bit of talent to achieve a desired result. Technology has always played a part in the advancement of the process and equiptment used in photography. Although digital has changed the process forever, it is important and vital to remember and practise the art at it’s many stages in development (no pun intended) otherwise everything before it is lost.

    • I’m sure the scribes felt the say way when Gutenberg’s printing press was invented.

      Somehow, we all got by.

  2. I’ve always viewed digital being to photography what oil paints were to painting. Oil paints took a while to catch on (in Western Europe), and plenty of fresco and tempera masters and their patrons (ie, clients) I’m sure resisted change. But the flexibility, speed, and lower price that oil paints offered meant the revolution was inevitable. Fast-forward to the advent of being able to store and sell oil paint in tubes, and just about anybody that wanted to could–and did–try their hand at painting. Long gone were the days of artists having to spend their youth in apprenticeships mixing toxic pigments and doing other grunt work for their master for years, with little real hope of even being able to strike out on their own.

    • Tim, I totally agree . I find that so many of the film/digital arguments are just a reply of other, similar arguments from art history. Whether that be tempra/oil paint or painting/photography arguments/discussions. And I don’t think that Sebastião Salgado needs Gord to explain to him about patience and dedication.

  3. I think it is not so much about which technology to use, but why I like the digital photography (and the internet) is, that it is cool and fashionable again to make photos. Making photography a interesting thing for young people again means more which will care about good photos, means more will care about making good photos, means an overall increase of quality.
    That there is a lot of junk out there – well, before it was hidden in some peoples dia positive archives…

  4. While I agree with Salgado, it’s still interesting to note that he always claimed that he was not an artist, merely a documentarian. His opinion, then, has nothing to do with the question. Just sayin’.

  5. I totally disagree. I love film and have not yet ever received the same outcome (on many levels ) with digital that i receive from film.

  6. stanchung

    I can be nostalgic about film but seriously, I’d rather be worrying about memory cards than worry about whether the image is perfectly focused, film scratches, dust, light leaks unless those are precisely the ‘effects’ you’re looking for.

    In the context of what he’s saying I think even diehard film fans will have to admit it’s hard to get a good photo in lowlight compared to the current crop of super digital cameras.

  7. As I said above, shoot what you want…

    But something i wrote in a recent blog post about shooting film (which I switched back to recently:
    When I get to the shoot and pull out something like my Mamiya RZ67, every subject has said just about the same thing;  “Whoa, what kind of camera is that?  You’re shooting film? Wow!” 

    You know what I hear a lot when I pull out a Canon digital:
    “Oh, I have one of those.”