The last decade has seen too many changes in the field of media, especially photography. A great picture is still a great picture and that will always be true. What has changed is the means of getting this picture. I think the whole shift from film photography to digital photography has been a real game-changer and has worked both for and against photographers. For many, this change or transition wasn’t a smooth one. I have heard of a lot of photographers shooting on film right till the time film was almost unavailable anymore. This is one field that is constantly changing and with the changes comes the inherent need to adapt which is as important as taking the perfect picture.
This change is not seen only in cameras but in photography as a business. The lights of earlier have been replaced by digital lights, light modifiers are aplenty, simple umbrellas have been replaced by six feet and eight feet reflectors and we now shoot tethered. This means that the camera is attached to the laptop or to a big screen and every shot is previewed on a bigger preview screen. Flash sync cords have been replaced by infrared triggers to fire off the lights, which in turn have been replaced by radio triggers. Radio triggers enable the photographer to stand far away from the subject and still make the lights fire. There’s an overall shift in the photography domain, in how we do business, in how we preview images, how we select them and how we reproduce them and I like to believe it is for the better.
This inevitably leads to the question — Photoshop or no Photoshop? Along with these changes emerge two breeds of photographers. One who believe real photographers don’t use Photoshop (which is not true) and the other, who do more on Photoshop than what they manage to achieve with the camera. But this makes them digital artists, not photographers. In short, the darkroom, where basic digging and burning, adjusting saturation, contrast and brightness used to be played with has been replaced by the digital darkroom, where you can ‘add a sky’ which is not there. And also, perhaps add a light source which you should have while you took the shot. It is necessary to take your pictures to this digital darkroom, as avoiding it is equivalent to jumping the dark room process had you been shooting on film.
In this respect, I would say film was better as, then, we at least saw the models or the subjects for what they are. With excessive airbrushing and manipulating, you really cannot make out how the person looks. There have been instances where after casting for shoots, models have turned up looking totally different from their pictures. In this case, I feel mobile phone cameras are a boon. Yes, we ask them to send us selfies, which give us a real idea of what people look like. No edits, no lights, no manipulations. And let’s not forget mobile phones.
Everyone out there moves around with a camera now. People use their iOS and Android devices to capture the moments and moods around them. Technological advancements have made this medium accessible to every household and fit every pocket. Happy clicking!
Sameer Belwalkar is a professional photographer based in Pune