RE: Actual photograph-reply

From: Robert W. Schramm ^lt;>
Date: 03/17/05-10:03:16 AM Z
Message-id: <BAY21-F1386DF0BFDB98537C8DF76D0490@phx.gbl>


   I couldn't agree with you more in your defense of "real" photography. I
do digital imaging and I call the prints "Giclee' Prints" not photographs.
About three years ago I won the grand prize in an Ilford international
competition but it was for the digital print catagory. There were two other
catagories, i.e. color and black and white.
   My degrees are in physics which I taught at a college for 40 years but I
also taught photography
in the art department. I taught two courses which might be described as
basic and advanced. The basic course was just that. Students were required
to obtain a manual, 35 mm single lens reflex camera. I would not allow them
to use an auto- anything camera. In the advanced course the students learned
how to lmedium anbd large format cameras and a number of advanced techniques
such as alternative process printing, etc.
    I first started working in photography when I was in 4th grade. That was
over 60 years ago and I have seen a lot of changes. Like you, I am concerned
about the digital revolution. There is no doubt that snapshot photography
will go digital and certain films will be discontinued. But I believe that
commercial photographers will keep film alive for a long time.
    There was a time when certain processes were considered lost art. e.g.
daguerreotypes. There is a small but persistent group of alternative process
printers who are making contemporary dags. I am one of that group. In order
to do this I had to build or cause to have built all of my equipent except
for a modified 4 x 5 camera. My point is that even if the commercial
photographers abandon film, I believe that alternative process printers will
keep it alive even if they have to make their own film.
     Yes, it has been my experience that today, as a result of
auto-everything cameras and machine
processing, everyone thinks they are a photographer. Do you remember the old
kits ? Those encouraged a lot of people to think they were artists. As a
result of this current attitude, I will no long enter my work in photography
shows. I only enter it in art shows.
     I don't fight digital imaging. I know enough about it so I can analize
images I see entered in photo shows and also utalize digital imaging for my
own purposes.
     You have some interesting ideas I would like to explore further with
you off list.

Best wishes,
Bob Schramm
Check out my web page at:

&gt;From: Joe Smigiel &lt;;
&gt;Subject: RE: Actual photograph
&gt;Date: Thu, 17 Mar 2005 09:28:07 -0500
&gt; &gt;&gt;&gt; 03/16/05 10:12 PM &gt;&gt;&gt;
&gt; &gt;&gt;Joe,
&gt;I think its a matter of semantics...
&gt;Bob Schramm&lt;&lt;
&gt;Hi Bob,
&gt;Yes. I think a large part of this philosophical discussion about what
&gt;is photography is precisely about the meaning and interpretation of the
&gt;The reason I have persisted in this discussion is because I feel that
&gt;Photography is being redefined, and in my opinion erroniously so, as
&gt;digital at the expense of conventional silver halide and historic
&gt;processes. Now, one could pooh-pooh that trend as being something not
&gt;to worry about, justified as technology marches on, etc., and my
&gt;reaction as, well, reactionary and very old school, academic, etc., but
&gt;I think there is a real danger in terms of potential loss of materials.
&gt;Witness the reduced availability and production of certain films and
&gt;papers, while at the same time the popular photographic literature has
&gt;swung over to being primarily about digital capture and output devices.
&gt;The part that I find scary is that the printmaking aspect of photography
&gt;is somehow morphing into encompassing primarily inkjet prints and other
&gt;things which, IMO, have much less intrinsic value because they lack the
&gt;handmade aspects that Dick, myself, and others have commented on. I
&gt;believe there is a growing acceptance by galleries to label such prints
&gt;as &quot;photographs&quot; and, if calling them photographs isn't bad
enough, they
&gt;are also trying to call them things which lead the uninformed audience
&gt;that they are getting a traditional photograph (ala &quot;carbon
print&quot; or
&gt;&quot;platinum giclee&quot; or &quot;pigment print&quot;) when they are
getting a different
&gt;type of printed image, more mechanical and less handcrafted. (Perhaps
&gt;conventional and alternative photographic processes will eventually and
&gt;finally be accepted as truly valid art forms rather than &quot;some
&gt;stepchild of the Arts&quot; when &quot;digital photography&quot; totally
&gt;hearts of the greater unwashed. I'd say that would be &quot;a good
&gt;but I'm afraid they try to lock me up.)
&gt;Scarier still is the perception that Photography now is that image on
&gt;the cell phone or the LCD/CRT on your desk. To me, there is a
&gt;difference between being a camera operator and a photographer. The
&gt;latter denotes a professional artist or imaging professional and
&gt;printmaker, and I want to keep that distinction alive. There is also
&gt;a difference between a picture and a print and a photographic print and
&gt;a lithograph and I want to keep that distinction also.
&gt;Several years ago I was involved in a committee at school to develop
&gt;&quot;New Media&quot; courses and programs. One of the vice-presidents
of the
&gt;college in charge of &quot;technology&quot; seriously asserted that we
&gt;provide inexpensive point-and-shoot 2-megapixel cameras to students in a
&gt;proposed digital photography course and have them output their work to
&gt;the computer screen or color xerox and that would be all we needed to
&gt;run the course and everyone would be doing &quot;photography.&quot;
That's scary
&gt;to me because that person held the purse strings.
&gt;While I won't go into details, I will say that I and others were
&gt;successful in convincing the committee that Photography encompassed so
&gt;much more than web graphics and I also designed, implimented and taught
&gt;a course in Digital Photography for a year at the college. I approached
&gt;it as a Fine Art Printmaking course. So, I'm not against inkjet prints
&gt;or digital cameras or scanners, I just think they fall under a broader
&gt;category than Photography, that there is a great danger in not
&gt;redefining these new technologies properly, and that the output should
&gt;be called what it is. Is there really something wrong with calling the
&gt;output a &quot;pigment inkjet print&quot; or &quot;dye-sublimation
print&quot; ? Call them
&gt;what they are.
&gt;I'll shut up now.
Received on Thu Mar 17 10:03:28 2005

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