|The film - digital web we weave
|This is based on 35mm, so I will use the term "slides" to cover reversal films in any format. I'm not going to get too in depth about this, but these are some of the changes I've seen over the years and is
based on the masses and general trends.
Looking at some of my old "Photographers Guidelines" for submitting images, I have seen a lot of changes over the years, with the most occurring during the digital wave. During the 80's it was either
send duplicate slides for review or send original slides for review. A few clients would even request originals to be kept on file for future use. During the 90's a shift from film to digital was happening and
some clients started adjusting their guidelines by adding "We do not accept digital images". In the early stages of digital, this was based on image quality compared to film or not being able to work with
digital files. By the Millennium, another shift in "terms" was seen and almost everyone was now only accepting digital files and no film. I still see a "mixed bag" where film and digital is accepted and some
added minimum "MP" ratings as in digital files must have been captured by at least a 24 megapixel camera or must be capable of a 2 page spread at native resolution without interpolation. Digital has
helped reduce the "liability factor" where clients do not have to worry about damaging or loosing an original slide. Here we are in 2009 and another trend is beginning. Some clients are actually
requesting to have projects photographed on film over digital because they want that "real film" look of the old days to seperate them from the masses. We need to be realistic and "see" that there are
some photographers and clients who never even went the digital route, they just kept doing business like they have for years.
Going back to the 80's again, remember looking forward to the next issue of your favorite photography magazine? Articles about cameras didn't grace every issue like today, where the entire issue is
about the latest and greatest digital camera "You should buy". Cameras were pretty simple up to the auto-focus era and they were upgraded every 8 to 10 years. Lenses really didn't change much
either and the films being used were generally Kodachrome 25 and 64 with a little Ektachrome tossed in. It was 1990 when Fujifilm introduced Velvia, that we saw a shift from KR14 processed film to an
almost 100% E-6 following. Most of the articles were about locations, techniques, gear as in everything from the camera system to the tripod. There just wasn't that huge marketing push to write
glamorous things about this years new camera body boasting 6 megapixels, because in six months they were writing the same thing about the new 10 megapixel camera. I understand it's advertising
dollars that keep these magazines up and running, so they have to write what the advertisers want and in turn what they feel the readers want, which is more hype about why they need to buy the new
blaa blaa blaa. Film articles and submissions are the minority now with all of the contributors using and pushing brand X digital cameras.
Welcome to the "World Wide Web", the land of unlimited articles and resources. As the 90's were ending, there was some really good articles on the web about film, film cameras, film scanners, printing
and using filters. As we progressed into the Millennium those articles seemed to have vanished and replaced with digital articles. Again some people reply on advertising dollars and the number of hits
to their web site to generate income, so of course they will write about the current trend. If the whole digital world came crashing down and we found ourselves back to film, what do you think you would
be seeing in magazines and web sites? Film was the standard of our profession and it almost seems that if you talk or write about it, you are labeled a holdout or you're in denial about the death of film.
The digital wave is over and we should be focused on photography no matter what medium is used. Photographers did just fine before digital, so why are so many people bashing it?
It's late, I'm enjoying a beautiful sunset and eating ice cream. WoW, this is great!, and then the phone rings It's one of my clients and they want to know if I'm shooting digital because they need a project
photographed and delivered in the same day. I replied, yes I do so that wouldn't be a problem, when do you need this done, and they reply, "Tomorrow". It sounds like a stressful situation being put
under that kind of deadline, but I truly live for gigs like this, since it's the way the majority of them come in. No room for error, 12 to 72 hour deadlines to be print ready, what else can raise so much
excitement in ones life? I completed the assignment as specified, billed for photography and post processing with a rush fee added. No fees for licensing at this time. A call from the accounting
department comes a day later and they want to know why the invoice is over double the rate of what they paid 2 weeks ago for a 1 day assignment? I told them, that was not a rush project and it was
photographed on film not digital. They still didn't get it, so the long explanation had to be given. With digital capture, I handle the "processing", formerly done by the lab and print shop. I process the
digital data after the capture in a post capture software, adjust, sharpen & color correct the images, handling most all of the steps of final image preparation formerly the responsibility of the client.
Clients have always paid for the various production costs associated with film capture -- from film, processing & Polaroids, clip tests, contact sheets, scanning, color correction and couriers to handle
transportation of film to finished works. With digital they feel they should only pay a fraction of those costs. Be it digital capture or film, clients need to pay the production charges associated with their
projects. The bottom line is, there's twice as much worked involved for the photographer with digital. I was paid the next day and everyone is on the same page with the rate structure.
It's all about speed these days. How fast can you shoot and deliver projects. The guy who is still 100% film won't be getting too many assignments from clients who ask upfront if they use digital. It's twice
as much work, but I will say from experience, I can run 150 exposures off a CF or SD card into a post processing software and batch them to a folder in less than an hour. That would be about the time it
would take to do 10 slides. I can photograph an assignment and process it with amazing speed, where if I used film, I would have at least 1 day of down time if I had to send the film out for processing.
The turnaround is quicker where an average of 5 business days are saved from the time I'm on location to delivery. So what's the best thing about digital? Fast Turnaround !
Archiving Digital Projects . . . . . we'll cover that in another article at another time.
|Text by Mark LaMonica