‘From Darkroom to Daylight’ premiered at this college as the last official event of Fotoseptiembre.
By Hannah Norman
People who take pictures with their smartphones should print out those that mean the most and delete the rest so future generations can appreciate the past, a New York-based director said Sept. 29 in the visual arts center.
“I tell everybody who’s shooting on iPhones or on digital that they should make a photo album each year with the best pictures of the year in it,” said Harvey Wang, who premiered his documentary “From Darkroom to Daylight” as part of Fotoseptiembre.
“I hope that the film introduces some of the wonders of the darkroom to a new generation, but I think people really love to see the mention of digital cameras, and I know that because that’s the beginning of what you all do — the digital thing,” Wang said.
A crowd of about 40 art students, faculty and photography hobbyists gathered to watch the film in which Wang gathered opinions from both sides of photography to show the transition from darkroom magic to digital efficiency.
He says photographers should adapt to new photographic processing techniques because the old way is becoming outmoded.
Before the screening, Wang introduced himself and talked about his years of experience in photography, filmmaking and directing.
The screening marked the last official event for the Fotoseptiembre calendar. This college was the first public location to host the photographer’s film.
The film featured interviews with obscure and well-known photographers who talked about their views on darkroom versus digital photography.
Richard Sandler, a diehard filmmaker, street photographer and personal friend, started the film with his passion for old-age photography.
Richard Benson, a printer, educator and photographer shared what he thinks will be the future of digital photography.
Eugene Richards, a writer, filmmaker and photographer, showcased his success as a photographer who leaped into the digital age.
Those in favor of working in the darkroom stayed there to continue preserving the old art form.
Digital age photographers accepted the form of creating and manipulating photographs with software like Adobe Photoshop.
“I don’t know if you can relate, but I still grapple with not knowing what to shoot, what tools I’m going to use,” Wang said. “But with digital photography, photographers can simply proceed.”
Wang met people in their 70s that said they were too old to get into new age techniques so they just stick with what they knew.
However, he says most people in their 50s who witnessed this transition still wanted to stay current.
“Photographers either go with the flow or get washed over,” he said.
A few students in the audience said they were unsure if the new technology of smartphone cameras and digital photography would make what they are learning useless.
With everyone having a digital camera nowadays, he reassured students that they will succeed as long as they find something that has personal meaning but universal appeal — that’s where the future of photography lies.
He encouraged them to find difficult things to photograph, enjoy it and use it as a way to explore the world around them.
Just don’t forget to save those photos in a format that can be viewed by future generations once today’s technology is obsolete, he said.
“The cameras are getting better, the files are getting bigger … but your grandchildren will not see any of your iPhone photos. And to me that is the critical thing,” Wang said.
He feels the real concern with smartphone photography is the ‘archivalness.’
Smart phone users take snapshots of moments in time.
What people photograph doesn’t matter unless they have a physical copy because that’s what will be left behind — not the smartphone, he said.
After the Q&A session, Wang promoted his new book that had more interviews with photographers not featured in the film.
He seemed attentive and humble as students and fans of his work met and asked to take photos with him.
His advice for aspiring photographers is to keep searching for adventure.
“Just go out and explore the world on your own,” he said.