Paradigm Shifts and Photography

“The Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated”— Mark Twain

Mark Twain was reportedly quoted saying the above in 1897; He died in 1910. In 1839 artist Paul Delaroche, on first seeing a Daguerreotype said, “from today, painting is dead!” Please don’t tell all of today’s painters along with the galleries and museums exhibiting their work about that one.

We are at a point in photography’s history where some on-line pundits are now saying, “photography is dead.” You see, paradigm shifts are hard for some people to deal with so they make up crap like this. Factoid: While the invention of the automobile would seemed to have contributed to the demise of the horse, there are more horses alive today then there were at the time of the civil war.

Instead, it’s a paradigm shift aka a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions that appears to be a confluence of digital photography and societal changes. We are at a time with millennial running around snapping selfies with their phones and calling them photos, while we oldsters, who still remember film, see the fleeting images on smartphones as merely pictures of the self-absorbed.

The Camera & Imaging Products Association’s (CIPA) latest analysis of trends says, “Cameras are for older people.” They claim that the people still interested in photography are “typically around the ages of 40-60 or more” and that their children and grandchildren are “far less interested in cameras and prefer to use their smartphones.” But based on my own observations of what must be purely empirical data I would like to refute at least some of that assumption. Or as Groucho Max once observed” what are you gong to be believe? What I tell you or your own eyes.” Breaking News: Latest CIPA report: System camera shipments in January and February higher than in 2016! So maybe they don’t believe their own data?

My eyes tell me that at many cars shows I see many young people—Millennials—with DSLRs making photographs. And then there is the other trend that I’ve written about over the past few years and that is the growing trend of shooting film cameras. While originally created by hipsters who didn’t want to shoot digital cameras like their fathers, this trend is growing with the introduction of a new ISO 80 black and white film  from Ferrania and Ektachrome being brought back from the dead by Kodak.

Photography, as we know and lve it, is clearly not dead but it is certainly changing as any paradigm does over time and I personally don’t think the dust has settled yet. What’s coming? I don’t know, my Magic 8 Ball says, “Reply hazy try again.”

Author: Joe Farace

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