Is an analog photography meant to be forgotten?

Digital versus analog, the story about why they don’t exclude each other
There is no answer for the question of what is better - analog or digital photography. Accordingly there is no solution to supremacy of Christmas over Easter, or what is more important – heart or reason. So, I am not going to answer this question. A digital photography has dominated and revolutionized not only photo business but our lives. The analog photography world without the pixels almost left for the past, we have almost forgotten what the film looks like and what is it for. It is sad. For me analog photography means a sentiment and elusive charm which can’t be replicated in a digital world. The analog photography is alive not only because the photo companies still produce a photosensitive material. Simply there are the reasons why, against all odds, analog photography is experiencing his renaissance. And this is what I am going to discuss now.

Nothing compares to the feelings and emotions we experience when flipping through old photos, which were hidden for decades in albums or shoe boxes  stored at attics or on wardrobes. Everyone’s heart starts to beat faster, and long-time unused nooks and crannies of our souls wake up. We never wait for such moments, they come unexpectedly when we accidently come across the album or the box. What is fascinating – that then we never put this album or box away. On the contrary – we look there knowing that the sentimental moment has come and we can immerse ourselves in memories. We often do not know what's so special about it. Is it possible to experience such moments browsing our digital photos on the monitor’s screen? The answer is more than obvious.

Today, we have both techniques at our disposal and thanks to unquestionable advantages of digital photography we choose what is in our pockets – mobile phone and we click. Yes, we click. Immediately after that we share our achievements with all the world. In most cases we devote more attention to correctly addressing and sending than to what and why we have registered. That’s it when it comes to the emotions associated with it. We almost never come back to these works, we just run and click more. We never worry about the exposition, the space on the memory card, processing or prints. Human kind tirelessly produces billions of worthless photos a week which are stored somewhere in a public cloud. In most cases there is nothing behind them, they do not arouse any memories or deeper emotions. As opposite to  sometimes very imperfect, steeped with history, the smell of those years, yellowed pieces of paper from the box found at attic. Tangible proof registered with the analog camera, which we subconsciously will never be able to give up.

My sentiment for photography comes from experience and believe in its power. It all began in the early 70's, when my parents get me my first camera. It was Druh – simple, film (coil type 120 with 60 mm wide protective paper) polish camera. A plastic box camera with a twisted lens barrel, which originates constructively and designally from the pre-war French Photax II Blindè camera counted among the design style of Art Déco. Druh camera is currently experiencing a second youth in the age of Lomography. You need to know that Lomography - the trend created in the early 90s of the 20th century in Vienna based on the use of old, traditional compact cameras, mainly Soviet production. Trend name origins from Soviet brand Lomo. The number of followers is assessed on 500 000. The  photos created in the spirit of lomo are focused on free topics, and can be recognized by characteristic aesthetics of the image resulting from poor quality of equipment. The trend is guided by ten principles:

1.    Wherever you go take lomo with you
2.    Take photos at every time of the day and night
3.    Lomo is a part of your life
4.    Snap off the hip
5.    Snap objects from the shortest possible distance
6.    Don’t think!
7.    Be fast!
8.    Before you press the trigger you never know what will be in the picture
9.    When you press the trigger you will not know it either
10.    Do not worry about the rules and conventions in traditional photography.

By the way, I have an irresistible impression that these universal commandments apply to all mobile phones holders and followers today. 

Back to the topic, I took my valuable plastic box and precious film with me for holiday and I knew that that's all I need to do to be happy. The task was simple – aim and push the shutter trigger. Settings like time, stop or ISO were barely available so the results were to be guaranteed. Not exactly. After the film was processed, you had to do complex gymnastics in order for the prints to be accepted.

After Druh I owned few more cameras produced in the Eastern bloc on "western" licenses, on which I got to know the secrets of optics and principles of photography, cameras that gave me the indescribable joy of creating an image and shaped my hobby. Hobby and passion for life. Then it would never came to anyone’s’ mind that this was analogue photography.

The years of analog experience, work with a light meter, hours of tedious struggle in the darkroom with chemical reagents, enlarger or dryer provided me with broad perspective and the right to take an opinion on photography today. In this context, I have no doubt that it is much easier to use a digital camera for those who have such experience. It is much harder to get the other way.

Before I got myself my first digital camera in 2002, many cameras passed through my hands, some of which are still on the shelf in my display case. I waited impatiently for the moment of the digital change because even then the advantages of modern solutions were obvious. I could finally take more free approach to the number of pictures taken – I didn’t have to buy the film and memory card capacitated much more photos. I could delete the failed frames immediately, freeing up space in my memory, the effects were immediately visible on the LCD screen so learning and proofing took place instantly. What's more - I could quickly and easily archive photos and see them on the monitor. The whole process has become very convenient and fast. I became the master of the situation, I could do anything then. I could hide my old camera into a drawer. However, looking at the picture I took, something did not leave me alone, something that meant that despite these undoubted advantages, the digital photography did not charm me at the beginning. I expected more and better results. Someone might say that you can’t have everything at once. 

I wouldn’t agree more, but the flaws of fledgling digital photography left me sleepless at nights. At that time, faith in rapid technological progress allowed us to expect that childhood illnesses would be eliminated over several years. 16 years have passed and digital photography is still far from perfect. Yes, the progress is shocking but the question arises why producers of digital cameras have begun to incorporate various "presets" imitating the impression of analog photography in their products for some time now. They are probably aware of the advantages and charm of analogue photography and the fact that some time has yet to pass before digital photography overtakes analogue one.

Or maybe already overtook? Maybe it already happened? Or maybe it is not at all about that?

Answering such a question is not easy. First, the border should be defined - the mission almost impossible.

To keep analogue photography alive, we should cultivate its traditions and irresistible charm. Someone might say that today it is impossible to distinguish a digital image from an analogue one. There will probably be some who will stand firmly on the side of the digital photography. Perhaps, but I will still offer digital and analog services, but the latter will only be limited to short outdoor or fiancée sessions. Such an exclusive addition. I heartily encourage you because there is no alternative to analogue photography.

One type of photography does not exclude the other - for me it is two different worlds that can function in parallel without the need for competition.

If you still face the dilemma what to choose I will try to clarify it for you. Read my next post.
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