Making Pictures With Professional Photographer John Enman: Popular trends in photography

Many photographers discuss their photographic journeys in terms of the equipment they have used and the places they have been. Much of the time those that I talk to seem more interested in telling me about their vacation then the photographs they captured, and I rarely see any of those images as permanent prints. When we read about popular trends in photography, in many cases, the writers tend to be mostly interested in the many choices in photographic equipment and locations. That said, I wonder about what popular trends, as in how they are using their photography and what popular movement they will all be following next? There will always be those creative individuals that produce images that don’t fit squarely into any categories. 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 is simply achieved using PhotoShop and altering colour channels. For example switching the red with blue channel or the blue with green channel and so on. Many photographers have had their digital cameras altered so they only “see” infrared light and find the resulting pictures thought provoking and exciting. The resulting enlargements are usually crowd pleasers at exhibitions. Kodak used to make an infrared film that produced wonderful grainy images, but now that it is among the many films, like Kodachrome, 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, and I used to have photographic papers with different coloured base coats like gold, blue, red, brown and so on. I remember a film that when processed would always have a sepia colour, and there were also chemicals that toned photographic papers. For years I enjoyed making paper negatives, solarizing my prints and producing bas-relief images. Bas-relief involved using lithographic film and produced line drawing-like prints. All of those effects can easily be done with the many post-production programs now available. I used to deliver the album to my wedding customers that included many photographs converted to black and white, and I would add some toned differently, and included “posterized” and “soft-focused” photographs. When I used film, I would make soft-focused images by holding a gold fish net over my lens, or I sprayed glass with hair spray and placed that in front on my lens for a soft ethereal effect. Now I have computer programs that I regularly use for those and other creative effects. I wonder if any of the creativity that I have mentioned or any others, past and present, will continue into the future. I have always liked manipulating my images, but will any of those photographs, or the popularity of the process used to produce them, stand the test of the time? I remember a friend asking me, “Do people want certain styles? Are there any dangers of delivering images that are really stylistic versus something more traditional?” He wondered at the staying power of manipulated images and if “looking at those in the future will be appreciated as much as they are now?” I suspect images that are altered from the original will always interest and amuse us. Some photographs exist only because of what is said visually about the subject, and of course, because they capture a moment in time. I expect I could be philosophizing for hours about which images will have staying power into the future. The simple answer is “it’s up to the practitioners and viewers of photography”. One could say that those photographs and photographic trends that survive and are enjoyed through the ages might depend on our experiences. With this in mind I pose that question: In this world of easily manipulated images what trends will go forward into the future? Or will it only be the traditional, unmanipulated colour, or “straight” black and white 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 emcam@telus.net. 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.

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