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Loosing self-identity with digital photography
Old 01-12-2019   #1
Georgiy Romanov
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Loosing self-identity with digital photography

Hello friends! I started to get involved in film photography when the world switched to digital technology in 2010. Never shooting on film before, only digital. I especially liked the monochrome photography. After five years, I had already shot several thousand rolls of film, and a dark room had been assembled. I held several photo exhibitions, published a photobook. It was a very fun time.

But a lot things was changed since. From year to year I have watched how film from the instrument turn into a form of nostalgia. The film became more and more expensive but on the other side digital technology became more and more affordable. And at some point I realized that it became pointless to taking pictures on film. I speak for myself.

I like to make snapshots, I like black and white photography, I like to shoot on film, but as a photographer, I understand that the time of available film is gone. I still continue to give film cameras as presents, I still have a film to shot and I still allow myself to shot couples rolls of film per month because of a feeling of nostalgia, but it may be a feeling of confusion. I tried out digital technologies many times, but I returned to the film because I thinked that film is very natural to my nature.

As I build a career as a journalist and documentary film maker digital technology opens up new opportunities. With digital photography, I was able to work on my own social medias, my blog, writing stories with photographs and develop my audience. Previously, all this time took the film craft. But it seems to me that with a digital camera I disappeared into the stream and lose my own self-identification. It is also hard for me to part with the past, because many of my friends are inspired by my work and try to keep shoting film. But as for me the object has always been the most important element in my photography.

Former film shooters, how did you cope with the feeling of losing your own self-identity in digital era? Especially when you switch from Mono to color.

For example my work from 2017 trip to Japan. Black and white film, scan from dark room print

And from 2018 trip to Japan. Smartphone, digital as digital and not a print

Photography works from 10 to 18
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Old 01-12-2019   #2
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I guess I have never felt my self identity was tied to either film or digital. They are both useful in their own ways.

I express myself through the print that I make and that hasn't changed whether I am making that print with an inkjet printer or with an enlarger in a darkroom.

But not even that print fully defines who I am. That is far more complex than any print or any method of capturing an image. My personal identity is tied to my family, my work, my hobbies, my lifestyle and many other things that have little to do with my photography.
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Old 01-12-2019   #3
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Just keep shooting...that's what it's all about right?
Art is the ability to make something...even if it is a big mess...
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Old 01-13-2019   #4
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I'm a photographer. Whether I use film or digital, I'm still a photographer dealing in the art of seeing. How I translate my vision is entirely secondary to my being a photographer first.

My interest in photography began when I saw the B&W drugstore prints a friend had taken to use for his charcoal drawings. I found the photos more interesting than the drawings. At the time, film was what there was and if you photographed, you used film. Although I shot a lot of color slides through the years, my main interest was always B&W.

I was happy shooting film but I recognized digital was about to become the dominant vehicle in photography so I begrudgingly started using a DSLR a little over 12 years ago. At first I only shot digital color, saving the B&W for my Leicas and printing them in the chemical darkroom. In time, I began to drift to digital for my B&W work. In many ways, I found digital superior to film and my digital prints superior to my darkroom prints. I've been 100% digital for about 10 years and much of it is now all B&W.

There is no "either/or", in my opinion. I think most people go off the tracks when they transition from film to digital or shoot both together by changing their approach to their basic vision. It's still taking pictures. You can do either or both but you need to hold onto your unique vision. Your photographic self-identity is tied to that vision, not to the tools used to translate it.
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Old 01-13-2019   #5
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I went back from digital to film for the same reason I enjoy your film example more than your digital example.
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Old 01-13-2019   #6
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If you self-identify as a film photographer, and you stop using film, then you will lose that self identity. Could be good, bad or indifferent. In any event, it is all within your control. It does not require a psychological evaluation, though you could ask questions about why you have chosen to self identify with a photographic medium.
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Old 01-15-2019   #7
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Perhaps a digital rangefinder camera (i.e. digital Leica M, or Epson RD1) can help you rediscover your film identity with digital image capture. Or at least a Fujifilm digital with optical viewfinder like the X100F.

Then try shooting JPEG-only in monochrome mode.

Another tactic is going straight from in-camera monochrome JPEG to commercial lab prints. Minimize the post-production Photoshop stage and go straight from camera to print-in-hand, to mimic the film process of yesterday.

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Old 01-15-2019   #8
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I self-identify with the polar bear.

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Old 01-18-2019   #9
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@Godfrey - that is the coolest picture!

I agree with many here. Identity goes far beyond the narrow definition of 'film photographer', and even moving to the broader scope of 'photographer' or 'visual artist' allows you to have much more freedom. Some say they are 'landscape photographers' or 'portrait photographer' or 'street photographer', but we're all much more than that.

And beyond being a photographer, we are artists, documenters, observers, collectors, sons, fathers, husbands, wives, girlfriends, mothers, and whatever else you do so strongly that it becomes part of you.
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