For a while now there has been the discussion that digital photography is cheaper than film and therefore prices that photographers charge should be decreasing and not increasing. In fact the truth of the matter is that the cost for photography has declined dramatically but that has nothing to do with digital vs. film. The major cause of that is that many unknowledgeable people entering the market and not charging properly for their services. These new photographers will learn in time that they are in fact cutting themselves short and they are driving the market down to their own demise. I won’t get into a discussion of what to charge in this article. I will however go into a bit of the cost of digital photography.
In the film days there was the visible cost of film, developing, processing, chemicals, paper/media, enlargers, and various other equipment. Today much of that has been replaced by computers, software, multiple hard drives, internet connections, and we still have the cost of media and printers. Cameras have increased in price dramatically for professional level equipment. In fact if you actually do the math it is more expensive today than it was 15 years ago and that is taking inflation into consideration. Again the cost is not a topic for this article. If you want to compare the costs of digital to the cost of film Google it; there are thousands of articles out there.
The topic of this article is the reality of digital. Digital photography is no less real than film. The processes have changed in that rather than spending hours or even days in a darkroom photographers now spend hours or days in front of a computer screen. The work is very similar in that you have to know how to push the processes very much like you did in the days of film. In fact many, if not all, photography schools still teach film prior to digital because there is a need to understand the processes so that when a student transfers that knowledge to the digital world they understand what they are doing and why. By understanding film they can often better understand the digital tools they use such as Aperture, Lightroom or Photoshop.
Today many people believe that because I don’t have a darkroom that my expenses have been reduced to nothing and that my processes are all virtual, i.e. simulated on a computer or network”. In fact Merriam Webster defines Virtual as, “being on or simulated on a computer or computer network”. Although the processes I use today are in fact performed in a virtual darkroom the images themselves are no less real than in the days of film. The process is virtual but the image is still as real as it has ever been.
The confusion comes into play when you decide that the process is the image and that just isn’t the case. In order to capture the image above I still needed to be there, I still had to anticipate the image, the moment and be prepared to capture that moment. I wasn’t virtually there, I was there and so was the young woman in the image. The method used to capture this moment was digital, the process that I used to convert it to black and white was virtual, but the image is a true moment in time and is no less real than the moment when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon or than when Mount St. Helens erupted.
Capturing the moments of history is still real and the images we create are just as real as they have ever been. There is virtually (pun intended) no difference in the images we create; only our processes are virtual.
So if you are wondering why quality photography is as expensive as it is remember that it is actually more cost effective than it has ever been, it can be used in more ways than ever, and when using digital images they are as real as images have ever been.
How can I help you bring your virtual ideas into reality?