Photographers generally discuss their photographic journey in terms of the equipment they have used, and much of the time those photo-buffs I talk to are more interested in telling me about the cameras they have than the photographs they have taken.
Popular trends in photography in many cases direct serious photographer’s choices of equipment. However, I wonder about trends in modern photography as they relate to the photographs? Are there actual photographic “trends” that are more than just copying another’s posted images to get lots of “likes” on Facebook or other social media sites?
I think many (most) photographers will position their photos in the popular genres like portraiture, scenic, macro or street photography. Yet there are those creative few photographers that are producing images that don’t fit squarely into any category.
During the height of film processing there was a procedure called “cross-processing”, that is, deliberately processing film using chemicals intended for a different film, for example, developing colour negative film in colour slide film chemicals. Today the cross-processing effect can be achieved using Photoshop and other post-production techniques to alter colour channels, switching the red with blue channel or the blue with green channel and so on.
Some photographers have had their digital cameras altered to only “see” infrared light and create unique pictures that are sometimes thought provoking and exciting. The resulting enlargements are usually crowd pleasers at exhibitions. Kodak used to make a film that produced wonderful grainy images, but I think now many films, like Kodachrome and Tri-X that have been discontinued. I should mention that there are many computer programs that will convert digital files to infrared-like images without a costly camera alteration.
Films and photographic papers that produced other worldly, final images were once the “in-thing” for artistic photographers that were pushing the boundaries.
There were photographic papers with different coloured base coats like gold, blue, red, brown, glossy silver and so on. I also remember a film that when processed would always have a sepia colour and there were also chemicals that toned photographic papers. Photographers were making negatives from only paper, solarizing prints and producing bas-relief images. (Bas-relief involved using lithographic film and produced line drawing-like prints)
Many, or all of these effects can easily be done with programs like Photoshop. When I used to deliver the album to wedding customers I always include photographs converted to black and white, some that were toned differently, and even “posterized” or “soft-focused” photographs.
Photographers would make soft-focused images by holding fishnets over their lenses, or put hairspray on glass for a soft ethereal effect or other creative effects for clients to enjoy and even anticipate.
I am sure there are photographers that will continue to push their photographs to new places, shunning the limelight and “likes” of Facebook. I have always liked manipulated images, but I wonder how many of those, or the processes used to produce them have stood the test of the time?
That’s a question posted to me by my friend Drew when we were looking at some old photography books that came into my shop. I wondered if most people want certain styles?
For those that produce photography for others, “is there any danger of giving a client images (wedding or portrait) that are too creative or stylistic versus something more traditional?” I am of the belief that a good photograph is one that endures the test of time.
I suspect images that don’t fit traditional genres will always interest and amuse us. Some because of who the photographer is, others because of what is being visually said about the subject, and I guess some because that moment in time might make the images classics. I think about the images of two past photographers that inspired me to study photography all those years ago, Man Ray, and Jerry Usellman.
I could add another page philosophizing about which images will have staying power into the future now that modern photographers rarely print their images.
With this in mind I pose the question: In this world of easily manipulated images what trends will have the staying power to last into the future? Or will it actually be only the traditional photographs that will endure and provide meaning and value to viewers in the future?
These are my thoughts for this week. Contact me at www.enmanscamera.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Stop by Enman’s Camera at 423 Tranquille Road in Kamloops. I sell an interesting selection of used photographic equipment. Don’t hesitate to call me at 250-371-3069.