Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Give Photographs Some Respect

My mother often comments about how serious I was as a child. I think I just took some things seriously that others regarded as less than serious, things like photos and music. I always took music very seriously, and I always saw the value of photographs.

I got my first camera in the fourth grade I knew right away that I was documenting my childhood and that the photographs would be important in fifty or sixty years. I knew this because I knew how important the fifty year-old photos of my parents and grandparents were.

Since then I have made somewhere around a million photographs. Tens of thousands of them are in my file cabinets either as negatives, slides, prints, or digital files on CDs. The best ones are in the form of books. Some of them are just documentation while others are very significant, but all of them are important for one reason or another.

I have always been concerned that many people haven’t given much respect to photographs. I have made quite a bit of money restoring old photographs, most of which only needed restoration because they were mistreated.

In the digital age, it seems that more and more photographs are considered to be free and therefore have no value. There are already anthropologists who fear that we will lose the records of generations because their photos were deleted or lost when the hard-drive crashed.

Personally I think that the best photographs will be preserved. But a quick glance at Facebook indicates that most people are not interested in making photographs that are aesthetically or technically pleasing.

With modern camera, making wonderful photographs has never been easier, but with ease comes sloppiness. My desire is that people would think, even for just a few seconds about how they could make their pictures better, and then learn some basics about how the camera works. Then the world would look a whole lot better, and future generations would have a better idea of what we cared about, and about how things looked back in 2010.