Photography at any age.

 I think the first camera that I could call my own was a Kodak easy-load 126 cartridge film Instamatic in the early 1960s.   I received that simple plastic Instamatic “snapshot” camera (that had no adjustments other than the setting for flash cubs and one for natural light photographs) in the sixth grade and saved money I earned at odd jobs to buy the 20 shot cartridges. 

It was so much easier to use than my parent’s awkward folding camera. All one had to do was point and shoot. Sure some shots were over exposed, some were under exposed and there were the expected blurry photos because the subject was moving to fast or because of camera shake, but I didn’t really care I just wanted a picture to remember. 

I’d take my film to a drive-through Fotomat kiosk located in a nearby shopping center parking lot and return the next day for an envelope filled with pictures that I would glue in a photo album.  

I still have a couple tattered old albums with wavy edged 4X6 inch, unglued photos stuffed between the pages because the little black adhesive corners became useless many years ago.

I thought about all that as I sat watching Jo’s five-year-old daughter walk around my yard with a modern DSLR I gave her to use so she could take pictures like her photographer mother. 

This was Evinn’s first chance at being left alone to make pictures with a big camera. She is always joining her mother for photo sessions, so all I had to do was set the camera on P mode. Put the zoom focal length at 18mm and show her where the shutter release is on the camera…then step away as she pointed the camera just like mom. 

We wandered around and she photographed anything that caught her eye.  (There must be 50 or so exposures of Bailin the cat)   When her mother returned they sat on the porch and scrolled through the pictures on the LCD.   That instant reinforcement is great for building confidence and creating a young artist. Even at five years old.

I saved her 198 images in a file on my computer and will transfer the file to Jo’s computer so Evinn can look at the pictures she made again.  I will also go through her files with her and pick out a couple to make 8X10 prints she can show to people.

 Gosh, modern digital cameras are so much better and way easier to use than those old film cameras, especially for a child.  The cost alone would scare a parent away from getting a camera for their young son or daughter.  

Photo By Evinn
Dad and Emit

Photography as an Art

Ever since I became interested in photography there has been this discussion that photography isn’t really a true Art.  Sure everyone thinks photographers are creative, but is a Photographer an artist in the same way as a Painter or Sculpture is?

Some years ago I was asked to give a talk on “Photography as Art” to the local chapter of the Federation of Canadian Artists.  I had been talking with a couple chapter members and had “aggressively” vocalised my displeasure when someone said they didn’t think anyone but painters were serious artists.  A couple of days later I got a call asking me to give a talk at their meeting.

There used to be an Arts organization that held a yearly “Festival of the Arts”.  They said that the festival was for all types of artists, but the judges usually thought little of photographers and showed it in the way they gave out their ribbons for excellence. 

For years it was usually painters that I would argue with when they said that because photographers relied on technology photography wasn’t a true art. And if that isn’t enough to bother those of us dedicated to the Art of Photography, this week I was told by a photographer that only used film say that those using digital cameras weren’t true photographers. (I have herd that before) 

I suppose there will always be those that will be quick to criticize anything new. I can imagine some ancient Egyptian that grew up carving figures into stone with a stone chisel thinking that young guy with those newfangled finger paints shouldn’t be decorating pyramids. 

When I discovered the enjoyment of photography I was hooked. Over my college years I had taken all sorts of courses in Fine Arts. But when I took my first classes in photography everything changed for me.  There was the ever-evolving technology of the camera and lenses. There were all the different types of film and chemicals and there were enlargers and printmaking. It was all so new.

I had learned about light and shadow in painting classes, but with photography understanding and using light was so much more real.  There was natural light and there was electronic flash. Flash excited me the most. (And still does)  

Then after about forty years of using film photography equipment, Digital cameras appeared and photography again changed for me as my creative opportunities exploded far beyond anything I could imagine.

When I would explain Photography as an Art to a painter I would discuss techniques that would relate to making an image that would make sense to someone that applied paint to a canvas.  I remember a fellow saying, “Painters don’t talk about the equipment they use like photographers do”.   My response to that is, “so what?” and “gosh, that’s too bad its so much fun.”

With regards to that photographer that thinks film is the true way to create a photograph I began by saying that most of the time I use my digital camera the same way he would use his old film camera.  However, he must choose different kinds of film, paper and chemicals to create some special effect, whereas I not only have an amazing sensor that can record more information than his film, I also have a computer and specialized programs that allows me way more control over detail and subject tonality than his film and chemicals ever will. 

I mentioned that if he wanted to make a print to sell or he wanted a photograph that his grandchildren could enjoy he would be limited to a Black & White image so he could “double fix” it for preservation.  A colour print would need to be handled carefully and kept out of direct sunlight or it will fade.   I use a pigment printer that is not uncommon no days and so much more environmentally friendly than film and film chemicals – that ink based image will also allow me to display the photography in direct sunlight for close to a hundred years.

Digital technology has made photography much more available for those that want to document their world. (Without damaging the environment I might add)  And for those of us that enjoy creating personal statement photography and love the opportunity of the growth this exciting technology offers, Photography is the perfect medium.