We made a survey which was responded by our audience in
more than 32 countries. We want to thank you all for your
invaluable feedback; it will provide us with substantial
guidance going forward, on the things you expect and which
you would like to see happen at ZoneZero.
Half of you claimed that the topic "from analog to
digital" had been mostly surpassed and that we now
live in a full digital photographic environment, and the
other half believes that film and the dark room are still
doing well and will be around for the foreseeable future.
I bring to you some evidence of some of the things I have
seen in the last thirty days, and which can give you a clear
indication that things apparently do not look so promising
for those that are still attached to the analog tradition.
I am not passing any judgement on the merits of their preferences,
I am merely presenting you with factual information, to
be evaluated of course, according to your own personal choices.
The first evidence that frankly surprised me, was to enter
a store that had replaced all the film section where film
would have been sold, with batteries of every type.
The second item that also caused me to pause in wonderment,
was to see a shelf in a photo store with that long standing
traditional name in the era of analog photography: ILFORD,
that had replaced their traditional photographic paper not
even under a new name but the same one of the analog era,
Ilford Gallerie, with ink jet printing paper.
I understand that ILFORD went through some tough financial
times in this transition to the digital era, and that they
have now reorganized under new ownership and management. One
of the outcomes of this process of rebirth, is the one just
mentioned above, were the silver based paper has been replaced
by paper that no longer goes through the dark room but through
your ink jet printer in the light room.
also found that Galleries and collectors seem to have found
a new love affair with silver halide prints. The same sheets
of paper that in the past were not even thought off as art,
are all of a sudden picking up a substantial following. Of
course I find it ironic that once again the art world is not
"getting it", because if they were really after
collecting images for their collections, other than the fetishism
of an object in which there is scarcity, they would naturally
choose to have some of the most precious prints made on very
luscious papers which diversity is completely new to the field
of photography, and by the way, lasts a lot longer than their
precious silver prints.
Along these lines, let me tell you that when I first started
printing in digital formats in the early nineties, the inks
at the time were not very stable, and the prints would fade
in a matter of some years. Collectors at the time would not
buy such prints readily, because their argument was, precisely
that, that the image might fade. I would argue, exactly the
opposite because these very soon would become "vintage
prints" in terms of the period in which they were made,
in other words, the earliest digital prints, would soon increase
in value enormously. And that is exactly what has happened,
but yet again, most collectors could not see this sort of
Maybe what we need is both collectors and artists with a sense
of vision, who can understand the direction in which things
can go, I believe that understanding constitutes the biggest
challenge. Those with a vision looking forward can also reap
the rewards of their foresight.
On another subject, I must say that we need to look again
at a matter which does not seem to want to go away.... photographers
who get fired from their newspapers for altering pictures
for their newspapers or agencies. The latest scandal is related
to photographer Allan Detrich, who worked for the Toledo
Blade. The managing editor at the newspaper said Detrich
had submitted other questionable pictures this year.
While I do not condone the alteration of pictures in the context
of news worthy images, when the alteration changes meaningfully
the content of what the image conveys, I believe it is also
very important we start questioning the inquisitors who have
taken it out on photographers, in some instances with very
There is a very delicate balance to strike, between the "news
establishment" taking out their professional frustration
at discovering here and there a number of frauds in photography,
however singling out photography as a scapegoat for the terrible
record that the press has had in recent times with regard
to it's lack of professional responsibility in reporting the
news in regard to the war in Iraq, in particular the US press.
A very important article in this respect was published recently
which I believe gives a very accurate summary of the current
situation with the press. I personally believe that a good
number of professionals in the press need to be taken to task
with out singling out just photographers.
New York, April, 2007