The Noise of New

Fri, Sep 3, 2010

Bruce DeBoer, Editorials

A conversation I seem to repeat is more or less a pep talk to accomplished photographers who want nothing more than to turn the clock back 20 years.  Overwhelmed with innovation, loss of convention and a fading uniqueness, I find myself trying to breathe courage into creative optimism.  I admire those who tolerate my rant.

Perhaps I should record my encouragements and replay them through headphones; I’m really the one I’m talking to.

Remember the snow ball we were rolling up hill?  Well … it’s melting nearly as fast as we can push, but here’s what I find myself saying to others:

You know shit.  All you photographers who spent years in the darkroom or designers who cut type or spent hours in the stat room – there is knowledge there that needs to be brought forward.  Uniqueness isn’t fading; it’s being lost in the noise of new.

Example:

I spent ½ a decade shooting product “to size” on 8×10 film so it could be cut and fit, relative to each other, into an elegantly designed page.  Through all the delicate well considered changes, I created a stack of 8×10 Polaroid dark slides (they made great film bags BTW) nearly 4 feet tall in one catalog season.

The exercise was to light the product in such a way that it would not only work together on a single page but also keep my mind from going numb with boredom. Light it this way, then that – different directions, shadow shapes – perfection had to be in front of the camera.  There was no formula, just me fooling around with light.

That will never happen again.  It’s easy to say, “So what” or “Thank God”. But my point is that I use that experience – that experience that will never happen again – ever day whether I’m behind the camera or computer.

I use this example because it’s one I know, but every photographer who’s been through a generation or two of technological change has similar examples.  Photoshop skill or Final Cut Pro expertise is available; early years of 10 hour day lighting experiments on 8×10 Polaroid are not.

Our job is to find a way to make the rarest of skills relevant.  Bring it forward it’s what makes you different; don’t let it fade.  The tech ground will continue to shift but at least us “established” dudes have a foundation.

Creativity, Differentiation, Photography

4 Responses to “The Noise of New”

  1. rich Says:

    GREAT post. It’s also important for those of us relatively new to photography to not only accept we don’t know shit on a certain level, but that because we have more easily-facilitated access to other (new) shit, we need to work even harder to make some interesting shit that’s not merely a repetition of what our modern, digital tools push us toward.

  2. Lee Love Says:

    I think it is important to remember as working professionals we are not unique. Almost EVERY industry gpne through changes the has caused them to rethink their value.

    We are doing better than most but let’s not forget what has happened to railroads, steel, automobile, printing, music and a host of other industries. Change is inevitable and it is important to remember why we each became photographers in the first place. For most of us that hasn’t changed.

    Bruce, great perspective and while the skills have changed your experience is irreplaceable.

    Lee

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