the organic process of PHOTOGRAPHY

A preface to my project NOFI


the organic process of


Photography is the science, art, and practice of creating images by recording light or other radiation. These images are created either in analog by means of a light-sensitive material, or digitally by means of an image sensor. Digital imaging versus photographic film has been a topic of discussion in the world of photography since the late 1990s, when digital cameras started to become easily accessible. 

Analog photography is an organic process from beginning to end. When you shoot, there is no Auto-Focus, Image stabilization, auto white balance, or auto lighting optimizer. You need patience and passion for the art of photography to shoot analog. This organic process is like meditation, you take one breath at a time until you get what you desire, it is an act of zen. In the introduction to Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel, D.T. Suzuki states that “Zen is the ‘everyday mind,’” he continues to say “this ‘evereyday mind’ is no more than ‘sleeping when tired, eating when hungry.’ ” And, that is what the organic process of photography should be.

The fact that analog photography is a slower process allows you to experiment in the different realms of photography, both when shooting and in the darkroom. The most wonderful thing that happens when you are working in analog is happy accidents, which is something that hardly ever occurs when working in front of a screen. When you go into photoshop you go in with an illustrators mindset correcting colors, erasing blemishes, removing or adding objects, and so on.  Every photographer that says “I’ll fix that in photoshop” is no longer viewing his image making as a photographer but as an illustrator. When working with film, you go in with the mindset of an image maker, you know that whatever you capture is on your sheet, and there is no photoshop in the darkroom. As Henri Cartier-Bresson would say it is all about “the decisive moment.”

In analog you also have more options when it comes to creating your images. You can use different chemistries for developing your film or paper, giving you different effects. And, you also have different methods of shooting as well as printing. For example, for shooting analog photography you have Daguerrotype, Infrared, Pinhole, Polaroid, Tintype, and Wetplate Collodion; to name a few. And for printing you have Albumen, Anthotype, Bromoil, Carbon, Chemigrams, Cyanotypes, Gum Bichromates, Silver Gelatin, and the list continues. 

On the website you can find twenty-nine different methods of printing and shooting in analog, including the ones listed above all primarily from the 19th century. While in digital you have two tools, one being photoshop and the second being you’re printer. And, until recent years you were limited on what you can print on digitally.

Digital imaging is just at a disadvantage when comes to the creation of imagery. You have a lost of image quality, as Joe Cha states in his article "Why Film Is Still Better Than Digital” film controls highlights better, blends light and color better, the grain is aesthetically pleasing, and you can shoot without selling your soul.  Another thing to think about is that “You can lose years of photographic work from a computer crash if you haven’t backed up your files“ (Rachael Towne), while your film will continue to be there. 

Digital imaging is a great method when working commercially, but when it comes to creative image making analog photography is the way to go. What you give up when you use digital methods is the feel, depth, and soul that film applies to your images but most importantly you loss the art of photography. 


Work Cited

  1. Anchell, Stephen G. The Darkroom Cookbook. Boston: Focal, 2000. Print.
  2. Beck, Jamie, and Kevin Burg. "Film vs. Digital." Ann Street Studio. N.p., 27 Mar. 2014. Web. 22 Oct. 2014.
  3. Cha, Joe. "Why Film Is Still Better Than Digital." SLR Lounge. N.p., 17 Jan. 2014. Web. 22 Oct. 2014.
  4. Dharod, Rahul. "Analog vs. Digital Photography – the Eternal Debate." Analog vs. Digital Photography – the Eternal Debate. Foto Flock, 13 June 2008. Web. 24 Oct. 2014.
  5. "Differences between Analogue and Digital - Canon Professional Network." Canon Professional Network. Canon, n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2014.
  6. "Do You Really Need Digital?" Digicam Guides. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.
  7. Herrigel, Eugen, and DT Suzuki. Zen in the Art of Archery. Trans. R. F. C. Hull. New York, NY: Pantheon, 1953. Print.
  8. Towne, Rachael. "Is Film Truly Superior to Digital?" Light Stalking. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.
  9. "29 Quotes By Photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson.” John Paul Caponigro â Digital Photography Workshops, DVDs, EBooks. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.