[Alt-photo] Re: Process or filter?

Earl Johnson earlj at comcast.net
Wed Mar 27 01:28:04 UTC 2013

I don't chime in very often here, but this thread invites my comments.

I think that there is a fundamental difference between an image and a 
photograph. I would argue that the former you can view on your computer 
screen, and the latter you can only hold in your hand and look at with 
your own eyes. The distance between a nice image on the screen and a 
print that sings is so far that anyone who thinks that digital image 
files are equivalent to good photographs has not seen good photographs. 
Anyone who has struggled to make the paper print work with whatever 
process knows that the object differs fundamentally from the source image.

I submit that photographs must be physical in order to be called 
photographs. I further submit that we should not judge the quality of 
photographic images unless we are able to see them in person. Compare a 
computer-screen rendition of one of Sandy King's carbon prints to the 
real animal, and you will not be tempted again to equate digital images 
with real, live photographs on paper. I only use Sandy because I think 
that his carbon prints are superb, and I have not had the opportunity to 
hold the prints of the rest of you wonderful artists in my own very hands.

The art world will come to appreciate the lovely photographs that are 
being produced in the  beginning of the 21st century, but few of them 
will be solely digital. The physical, tactile, emotional photographs 
that exist as objects will be much more valuable.

Earl Johnson

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