Rethinking Photographers: Impact of Technology

In my own practice the subjects that I like to shoot namely the environment and people have not changed however technology has changed significantly. My first camera was  one of the first Canon EOS bodies which imposed a number of key considerations before I started any specific shoot with the main decision being the film stock that I would use to record the images. If it was a sunny day and my subjects were outdoors then the camera would be loaded with either a colour ISO 100 film or black and white if I was going to develop the images myself.

The introduction of digital bodies with the ability to capture RAW images have meant many of the restrictions introduce by film stock can now be pushed to post production where a post production filter can be used to stylise the image to match a specific film.

When shooting sporting events such as motorsport the number of final images that are required to capture the key moments for the event have not changed however the point where the key images are selected has move further down the production lifecycle. With 36exp cassettes you make the decision when you press the shutter if the event is going to make the cut with digital I now do that once the images are loaded into the lightroom. Today it is not usual to have 1500 plus images from a single race day to cull for final processing and publication.

In my practice I still has elements of my film days in that I am always trying to get the image as close to end product in camera instead deferring that to a post production decision / activity. Even to the extent that I challenge myself on some shots to slow down and take single images. I have also this year started shooting film in parallel to digital on some shoots.

Technology evolution is at heart of my childhood as my father was involved in the development of cameras for television and their transition from products that only worked in studios to their use in outside broadcasting. Therefore I am always exploring new technology advances and how I could incorporate that into my practice. In 2001 I was shooting POV motorbike footage on some of the early consumer digital camcorders and then a few years later the GoPro arrived as a game changer in the POV video market allowing me to capture images that in he past could only be done by professional outside broadcaster.

The same is true with the introduction of quadcopters now allow me to explore images that would have either been impossible to capture or required prohibitively expensive equipment.

The risk with the breadth of technology can sometimes have a negative impact as story can be lost by the technology options available for any specific shoot.

At the end of the day growing up as a film photographer has help me keep technology in perspective when working on projects.

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