She said “How did you ever do it before digital?”

The other day I had to photograph the head of a local cancer center with their new
hulking nuclear linear accelerator for deep tissue cancer treatments.
Any of you who do annual reports, corporate work or business news do
these kind of shots often: you put the camera on a tripod, light the
room and subject in an interesting way with strobes while burning in
the pretty lights and displays of the machine with the room lights out.
Not a tricky shoot if you’ve done them before.

So I’m setting up my lights, get a few meter readings and then take
a test shot and take a look at it just to make sure that I didn’t
forget anything. The subject says “How did you ever do this before
digital.” I told her that it was the same thing only I shot it on film
and would take a few more shots to back me up. I’d still be able to
have a test shot if I used my medium format camera with the Polaroid
back. No big deal.

But to her it was. People are gotten so used to the idea / marketing
chatter that digital is “easier” or “better” that they forget all the
shots that were done just as well before digital was around. Funny huh?

Do any of you get that kind of response from people? They are used
to us carrying around very high-tech gear but do they act differently
when you, say, shoot a film camera? I certainly get conversation going
when I pull out my 2 1/4 twin lens.

But still to some people it’s like we couldn’t make photographs
worth a darn if we didn’t have a 10MP, 8 fps, digital body with a big
stabilized zoom lens and the all important lcd playback screen.

This brings up one of my “modern photography” sore spots: the
“Let me see the photo!” reaction by subjects. They are so used to
chimping the photo, (that means looking at the image on the lcd on the back of your camera), that they forget that there was a time that the way
that they saw “the good one” was when they read the story in print. Now
everyone expects that instant gratification. I gotta tell ya that
sometimes I don’t want to show them the screen and wish that I was
shooting film just so they wouldn’t bug me about it. In the film days
they trusted you to know what you were doing. Now they expect you to
show them if you are “pro” by letting them see your work right after
you have made the photo.
I think that one of the interesting aspects of our lovely digital cameras is that the mystery is gone.

Funky huh?

One thought on “She said “How did you ever do it before digital?””

  1. It’s hard to say “no” but I (almost) never show people the chimp. Invariably they have many suggestions, want to change it, think they look terrible, and have many tips from their Uncle Earl the photographer. Exceptions include kids to get them into it.
    This is kind of a dirty trick but sometimes I turn the display up to extra bright so it’s nearly impossible to see the picture in the daylight, except I can still see the histogram which is all I really check.
    Once in Greece though I took a pic of three old men at the local taverna. One of them agreed to have his pic taken but was pretty stuffy about it and didn’t speak a word of English. After I took the shot, I showed it to him. His face lit up, he looked amazed and said, in English, “how did you do that!”
    So I guess I use the LCD on the camera sparingly when I think it can open doors instead of screw things up.

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