When I first learned the medium of photography, it was in a black and white darkroom in high-school. Then in college, I followed up with 4 semesters of more black and white image making. When I went to working with color, I chose transparency film (slides).

The reason I chose transparency instead of negative film was three fold. First, I wanted to have the option to have my worked published, and editors required slides instead of prints. Second, I wanted to really see the results of my field work unimpeded by the translation of a negative image. Lastly, but this was very important, I didn’t want any prints I had made by a professional lab to be interpretations of a negative. The prints I requested were reproductions of the positive image in the slide. In this way, I felt that the print was still authentic to my vision.

The digital format has allowed me to take total control of every aspect of the image making process so that I feel more than ever that the outcome is authentically mine. This is a different kind of authenticity than whether the image is authentic. Here I’m referring to an authenticity of ownership – ownership of the creative process.

I think that the digital process makes it obvious to any viewer that the final result is not just authentic to me, but is totally representative of what I wanted to present. In a kind of twist to my initial fear about working in the digital format, I now feel that viewers must conclude that any digital image they see is only the result of my creative choices.

If I choose to make images that have a traditional feeling to them, it is not because of the limitation of a film and darkroom process, but a decided desire to present the image a certain way. What could be more authentic?

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2 thoughts on “More on being Authentic

  1. This is my favorite part of working digital — total creative control over ever aspect of the photograph. It’s a joy I had felt since my first days shooting black and white and developing it in our basement darkroom.

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