Digital or Analog..

This evening on my way home from my mom I was thinking about a photograph I took of her this morning. We woke up early to prepare lunch for some guests we were expecting. I came yesterday in the evening so I could save some time on transport. While my mom was getting ready for the guestsI shot some frames of her with my Fujifilm x100 (digital for those who don't know). 

Fujifilm x100.

This was the photograph I was thinking about. It's a nice photo of my mother. She's happy and enjoying the moment. But the reason why I was thinking about this photo was because there was a voice inside my head saying "You should have shot that with your Leica M7! Think if you had shot that analog!" This got me thinking about lots of stuff. Stuff that I actually already know but I haven't really heard the words in my head or in this case written them down. 

Why did I catch myself saying these words in my head? Is the photograph better when it's analog? I would say it absolutely gives a different feeling to the photograph. The graininess, roughness and not-really-"perfect"-look gives it a nice human and organic feel. Digital photos are almost too clean and loose this character of life. Had I shot it analog it would have given me the opportunity to make a darkroom print. But this digital image made me go into Lightroom, convert the color image into B/W and click on my analog-lookalike preset and exporting it as a jpg, at the most. Of course I could have a print made digitally but that wouldn't really mean anything to me. It would surely not have given me the same satisfaction as a darkroom print.

If a person saw this photo as a digital image or an analog photo, would that person care if the photo was created by one specific medium? Would the story even change? Does it matter if it was created by pixels or silver-oxide? Probably not. The content of the photo would be the same, but the aesthetics and emotion would be different. 

What makes me shoot analog or digital? Does the aesthetics and final photo or print make me choose one over the other? Or is there something else too this? I have thought about this a long time and it's something I ponder about several times a week. 

This is why I want to shoot analog:

  • It is exciting shooting analog. Just the fact that you're shooting on film.. light hits film, light causes a chemical reaction on the film, development creates a negative and you have a "photo".
  • It makes me slow down (yes..everyone says that, but it's true). It makes me focus on the essential things and makes me try to get it right from the beginning. 
  • I don't take hundreds of photos every time I shoot. I'm limited to 36 or less shots per roll, that makes me think a bit more about composition and when to press the shutter.
  • I get to process the film on my own and continue the process of creating something physical.
  • With the negative I can make a darkroom print. I am able to create something myself with my own hands. I don't let a machine do anything for me.
  • Every time I take out the negatives from the developing canister or look at my print developing in the darkroom tray it's like Christmas. This truly is the magic of photography! 
  • I like the look and aesthetics of the final photo. 
  • It gives me a huge amount of satisfaction creating an photograph from the moment I see an image in my head and hold up the viewfinder to my eye and press the shutter, to holding the final darkroom print in my hands. It might not be the best photo I ever took but I always feel proud as ever of what I have created.
  • Oh.. and it's cool and romantic :P

Creating a darkroom print. Shot with the Ricoh GR.

This is why I want to shoot digital:

  • Variable and high ISO!
  • I can view the image right away after pressing the shutter button! 
  • Less time developing, scanning and waiting. More time to shoot!
  • It's a great way to learn! Shooting analog has all its' "coolness" but it can't compete with the speed and learning ability of digital.
  • I can take hundreds of images and I don't have to worry about the end of the roll. This gives me the opportunity to shoot more and I don't have to be afraid to shoot or experiment with settings.
  • Since I only do black and white analog photography, digital gives me the opportunity to shoot color.
  • If I shoot on an assignment I want to have some security that I actually got the image and make sure it's sharp where it's suppose to be.

Wedding. Canon 5D mark II + 85/1,2 L II.

So is it really that crucial to shoot one or the other? Does it really matter? Do I have to choose? Can't I shoot both? Do I bring an analog camera and a digital camera with me at all times? Isn't digital more flexible? But I really prefer analog, so why bother shoot digital? These are questions that I ask myself a lot, but haven't been answered yet. I don't even know if there is one, for me.

Think that's enough for this evening. It's getting late and all this is making me tired :P Next time I hope to continue and write about this topic. Something to do with digital photography and why I would shoot this way VS. analog.. 

© 2013 Photography by Joel Foo