Digital or analog


Working with digital or analog photography makes no difference at all except for a subtle and decisive distinction that has to do more with how you think about yourself as a photographer and, from now on, also as a writer. 

Analog photography as we knew for many years was surely an end in itself since the image captured by the lens was just light inscribed on the surface of film. Whatever happened on a photograph had to always happen before the exposure of film because there was not many room for the photographer to technically manipulate the image after so except –maybe and to a certain degree– on development and printing, but that was almost everything photographers could do.

MACBA Museum  |  Richard Meier  |  Barcelona

MACBA Museum  |  Richard Meier  |  Barcelona

Digital photography as we use today works in a completely opposite way because the image that the photographer has in mind is actually written from the impression of light on the camera sensor. The light captured by the lens is no longer an end but a departing point from where to elaborate and reinforce the vision of the photographer.

Joan Fontcuberta, the renowned Catalan photographer and winner of the 2013 Hasselblad Award, enunciated this idea on his 2012 “The Pandora’s camera. Photography after photograhy” book: analog photography is inscribed, whereas digital photography is written (at the time of writing this post, I am afraid that there is not an English translation of the book and that it is currently only available in Spanish).

The first time I read Joan Fontcuberta’s idea I was completely catched by its simple obviousness and by how it has transformed the usually common conception of digital photographic manipulation and edition from being a some kind of photographer’s playground to acknowledging that it is an immense half of the work and vision of a photographer and truly a decisive stage on the whole photographic workflow and process.

This is an idea that somehow faces and questions the mainstream trend that says that now everybody is a photographer and that photographic technique is not an important matter anymore because cameras –and let’s say, smartphones ...– and editing software can almost work on their own.

As you can read here, there is always a photographer behind a camera who is the same individual diving into the many endless possibilities of editing software, always trying to achieve the excellence of his communicative intent trough a dedicated work of carefully writing photographs into its very minutest detail. Saying that photographic technique is not a relevant ability anymore to accomplish such creative vision reveals to be surely nonsense.

There are little differences when working with digital or analog, but you can ascertain here that there are increasingly more between photographers and people that only take photographs.


David Cardelús