It’s a thought often provoked by contemporary photographers creating surreal images with their new found technology. The absolute speed and ease manipulation can be obtained on a colour digital photograph is frightening nowadays and more and more agencies are beginning to notice and put up safeguards to protect against, for want of a better word, lying.
So when veteran war photographer, Don McCullin, nigh on superstar of the photography world speaks up and proclaims the digital domination of photography is “a totally lying experience” you have to stop and take note.
In conversation with Isaac Julien at the art fair Photo London, the Guardian reports McCullin discussed a wide range of topics with regards to photography including his own problems referring to it as art, preferring instead to likening it as a form of “communication and passing on information.” However, it was his comments on digital technology that had the industry ears pricking up.
McCullin is clearly a man that has grown up, lived and thrived in the world of film and isn’t struggling on the new digital playing field (unlike some other photographers.) He says he reluctantly uses a digital camera to alleviate the speed in which some editors want the shot however still has a darkroom and regularly processes film.
“These extraordinary pictures in colour, it looks as if someone has tried to redesign a chocolate box,” he said. “In the end, it doesn’t work, it’s hideous.”
All of the prolific photographer’s most celebrated images are quite naturally grainy, monochrome depictions of war. This fact doesn’t help to offset the displeasure he reviles in on speaking about colour digital photography. “It’s hideous” he says. While many may agree on this while looking through the HDR-ridden photopocalypse that is the Flickr Explore gallery one can’t help but think the fad of over saturation and high contrast might be coming to an end.
Despite the controversy this will undoubtedly cause, at Phogotraphy we believe that McCullin may be on to something. With record numbers of photographers disqualified from last year’s World Press Photo Awards, the now yearly tradition of Wildlife Photography winners being disqualified and the intentional lying of some themes within astrophotography it’s hard to disagree.
Arguing that manipulation can be achieved in many the same way in the darkroom is futile. It takes practise, lots of practise, the effort required is almost another industry itself.
“…digital photography can be a totally lying kind of experience, you can move anything you want … the whole thing can’t be trusted really.”
Perhaps the never ending discussion on photography’s greatest dichotomy is not about how much you can trust the user, but simply the limitations imposed on a roll of film. There is an infinite amount of freedom with a digital photograph that some, but certainly not all, can abuse. That is what Don McCullin is worried about.
Your thoughts are welcomed below or on our Facebook page. Do you trust film photography more than digital? Are you sick of the incredibly perfect hyper realised images frequently displayed in the best of 500px galleries? Do you think it’s a fuss over nothing?
via The Guardian