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One Stop Over - 'It's All Black & White, Right?'

by Editor Peter Davidson - One Stop Over #6
Edited and published by Yvette Depaepe, the 12th of January 2023


                                                                                                   'Water Crises at Rural India' by Avishek Das


It's All Black & White, Right?


It's not real photography... if it's in colour. Or if it's digital. Or if it isn't printed. All valid positions, depending on your position. Things are complicated. Not everything is so black and white in life. Or in photography. Don't start on the 'what is art' question... A better question might actually be what is photography and what is image? And do we care? 


Salgado suggests we have less than twenty years left of photography, before all that is left, is image. 
For him, the tangible and important thing is the tactile print. A physical legacy that will remain long after the intangible image has faded. He may be right. But I think he's actually being over optimistic on the time scale.


Then again, speaking personally, printing all my works will not offer future archivists much interest. The world is flooded with images of serious note from brilliant photographers covering more important events than my grandchildren's birthday party. Apart from pictures of their own kids, what interest would my remaining family members have in the stuff I've produced and printed for myself? None at all, I suspect. By printing all my stuff, I would in effect, be simply condemning relatives to a guilt trip of a visit to the dump. So if that's the case, why should we care?


Well, we care because we live in the moment. And, as photographers, we should document those moments as they pass, because once they've gone, they've gone. Get on doing photography and just let others decide the merits (if any) of any artistic or documentary worth of your prints. Because only the prints will remain. The digital library hosting your images, the website, all these might go down, be bought by Elon or reformatted, or the technology will evolve to make the images inaccessible or they become corrupted. Or what's most likely, the images will simply get lost and forgotten in the vast digital fog. Much like the millions of lost personal blogs. Remember them? Did you have one? Can you remember how to access it now? Or even its name? 


A physical portfolio will always be there. Unless the house burns down of course... But that's life for you. Nothing is ever truly black and white. 


Insightful sharing. Thank you . Nothing is truly black and white.
Great article Peter!
Thanks Patrick!
Well put Peter. As a journalist with over 40 years clocked up in the print trade this interesting opinion piece certainly rings bells for me. Those who can’t accept their brilliant prose will become lining for the canary’s cage the day after it appears are doomed to disillusionment and the purgatory of novel writing in the vain hope of immortality. Oh but the momentary thrill of seeing your work on the page makes it all worthwhile. Photography for me is simply another form of storytelling. It may have the lifespan of a firefly but it burns brightly while it lasts. That’s about as good as it gets.
About as good as it gets, and that's fine by me too. Thanks Tony.
Me han gustado mucho esas reflexiones
Thanks Eduardo.
Another thoughtful article. Thank you, Peter.
Thank Steven.
Thank you Peter for a great topic... nothing last forever! It is complicated! Paper or Digital! Is it immaterial, or is it a question of preferences? Decorating the walls of homes, shops, public spaces, and offices are done digitally or on paper and both will not remain forever. It is life. As you said "nothing is ever truly black and white" no pun intended... Franciscog
Cheers Francisco!
In my opinion, any opinion on this matter is an illusion. Only you and I see the value of what we do. Behind global problems, wars, famine, poverty, ecology, our creativity is so scanty and meaningless that it easily pales in the face of real processes. To please yourself with what you create, if this is real creativity, its main meaning. Recognition of you by society is just a small gratitude for the gift of mood, nothing more. Only you and I truly love what is called photography, and it does not matter in what form it is saved.
Indeed, thanks for a great comment Dmitry.
Another strong topic to discuss, Peter! Thank you so much for this amazing and excellent weekly column. Cheers, Yvette
Thank you Yvette!
Well said Peter totally agree something we all think about at a certain age :)
Thanks Colin!