Photography: input vs output ?

John Gruber recently linked to this story by Craig Mod in the New Yorker, “Goodbye, Cameras”

Craig’s story walks us through his personal journey of photography, from film to digital SLR to digital mirrorless to the iPhone.

And it’s clear he’s passionate about his work and his art. You can also feel his joy and memories of using film.

Because of its simplicity, shooting with a [Hasselblad] 500C is deliberate in ways that few other cameras can match: you line up your shot, take a deep breath, and then, when everything comes together—light, shadow, and subject—squeeze the release and mumble a short prayer as the cloth shutter opens and closes with a thick, satisfying thunk. It almost feels like the camera is munching on the photons of light passing through it. I loved looking at the world through its precisely ground glass,

You should read the entire piece but in the end he comes to the following conclusion

In the same way that the transition from film to digital is now taken for granted, the shift from cameras to networked devices with lenses should be obvious. While we’ve long obsessed over the size of the film and image sensors, today we mainly view photos on networked screens—often tiny ones, regardless of how the image was captured

I agree with much of this. Most of our photographs aren’t printed by any means or even appreciated on large displays. They are mostly consumed on our small mobile devices. 

And with those small displays, it’s less obvious that you need anything more than todays iPhone 5s which is truly a remarkable camera. 

But for me it’s not about the output that matters. The input matters just as much.

When I hold a camera like a Leica M3 or M240, or a medium format film camera like a Hasselblad 503cw, the output isn’t guaranteed. It’s part of the process. But I’m in full control. I zoom with my feet. I can feel, with my hands and eyes, how to change the photograph by moving the aperture dial, focus ring and shutter speed. And then I press the shutter and make my photograph. One at a time. 

I don’t know how else to explain this feeling even though I know that all of that effort doesn’t matter to the viewer on their mobile phone. But it does matter to me. 

And yet its not lost on me that my most well “liked” photograph (11k likes) on my Tumblr was taken with an iPhone. 

To be continued….