it was the season of Darkness

A modern iPhone just past midnight

Toronto. A few days ago I suggested the smartphone camera is revolutionizing photography compared with what we grew up with in the days of film and 35mm cameras. This view was confirmed, emphasized and detailed by Matthew Panzarino’s definitive review of the iPhone 8 on Tech Crunch this past Tuesday, September 19th.

We watched (often from the sidelines) the ever growing digital revolution as it affected newspapers, mail delivery, retailing, film, music, books,  magazines and even the profession of photography. Panzarino’s article gives strong detail on just how the smartphone camera is revolutionizing photography today and in many cases eliminating the need for a professional. Read the article and give some thought to where we are headed as the digital world unfolds.

Today, I take digital images and effortlessly develop and key-word them on my computer. I notice many newer TV programs use what is obviously a drone to give a geographic overview of an area or show a key car chase. TV stations (and newspapers) use digital images bought inexpensively from an archive or even taken by an amateur and freely offered simply for the chance to be seen on TV – bragging rights.

The more successful newspapers, magazines, and retailers have a significant online presence, sometimes even greater than their physical stores. The millennials of today use smartphones rather than land lines and high speed internet in place of TV networks. News comes in electronically, not in paper and ink. Everything is fast. Gone are the days of three month’s delay before seeing the newest innovations. We use Google instead of (or with) books to research things.

I notice that TV news uses videos with only the remotest connection to a local story, or a smartphone video shot in portrait format covering a local crime scene or altercation. Wedding photographers often shoot hundreds of pictures, quickly clean up the best of the lot on a computer, record them to a DVD and pass the result on to the freshly minted couple. Little delay, no struggle with processing, no album – all in a day’s work.

What about us as an historical society? Film and the cameras we knew when we were younger are rapidly disappearing in the rear-view mirror. Interest in cameras has dropped drastically.  Only well known brands have retained any value at the moment. The fall in photographic hardware interest (other than niche processes) has been off-set to a degree by a growing interest in the old photographic pictures of a century or more ago, and as Dickens wrote, “It was  the best of times, it was the worst of times…”.


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