26 June 2013

The Globe and Mail: “Humanity takes millions of photos every day. Why are most so forgettable?”

This spring, I was an adjudicator of the 2013 Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival photography competition. This week, my three fellow judges – all professional photographers and curators – and I announced that we couldn’t find a winner, and won’t be awarding a prize for the first time in 18 years. There isn’t even a runner-up. […]

Like Mary Ellen Mark, the renowned New York documentary photographer who has shot everyone from Don Ameche to Lou Reed, Mr. Richards still shoots on black-and-white film. When I’m shooting film, I have a finite number of images, he said. And I really have to think about what I’m shooting. And this is where I think we’re going: People no longer have to think. Ian Brown

Film certainly imposes a kind of discipline on the photographer and forces him to visualize the resulting shot better – since he won’t be able to see it until days or weeks later, after the film is processed. Maybe what was lost in the transition to digital was a form of selection, the ability to say ‘No’ to a particular photo in order to find the better one. Instead people just push the shutter and upload the result without comparing it with others. I know I am myself very guilty of this.

That could actually be an interesting idea for a photo app – if it hasn’t been done already: an app that limits the number of photos you can take on a given day or week, forcing you to learn to choose between them, to focus on better quality instead of more quantity and applying filters.

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