Physical vs Digital Photograph

March 19, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

The following is a slightly modified version of a response I made to an on-line photography forum, in response to a question someone posted about one's opinion on the differences, if any, between photographs printed on some tangible physical media vs photographs on electronic media and that remain in digital form. If you're reading this, you've seen some of my photographs in digital electronic form.

Nevertheless, here is my opinion:

A photograph that is printed on paper and is tangible has more substance than one that is and remains digital. It is always present, not just when the battery is charged or the power is on. Also, printing - even of a digital PhotoShop processed image - exacts a price and puts some limits on the quantity. One cannot reasonably store mega-4x6 prints, one does not have the wall space to hang kilo-16x20 framed images. Having these harder constraints compels more thought, care and, ultimately, meaning into the finished product. I much prefer seeing a photography exhibit hanging in a gallery, than one on-line. I love photography and when photography web sites started appearing on the internet in the late 90's and early 2000's, I enthusiastically joined several. I enjoyed viewing and commenting on the images and posting my own work. More and more however I find myself bored with these on-line sites and the posted photographs, not because of poor quality and not because of jealousy (although there are plenty of beautiful photographs of which I am envious), but rather simply because of the sheer quantity. Every day one can log on and cycle through image after image, heck, one per second for 24 hours, and never see the same photograph twice and still not see but a small fraction of all the photographs posted on-line that day! Herons, portraits, Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Rockies, the Pacific Ocean, old barns, rusty cars, sunrise, sunset (swiftly flow the years), you name it, some are extremely good, but so what, tomorrow there will be an entirely new batch. This exercise make me feel like Sisyphus pushing the stone up the hill only to have to redo it again tomorrow, but at least pushing a stone gives one a cardio workout. Personally, for me, walking through a gallery looking at framed photographs hanging on a wall has much more meaning.


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