A Resurgence of Film?

Sometimes, Twitter leads me to strange places … take, for instance, this post by Neil Turner who may (or may not) be lamenting a return to film because it’s more valid. (I may not have this right, go read it for yourself.)

There was some head scratching here on the back hallway as I saw these words fall into place:

The place where this is most frightening is in our colleges and universities where the small resurgence of film is being leapt upon by lecturers who are miles out of their depth in the digital world supported by managers who are desperate to validate their investments in silver based facilities and avoid having to spend on up-to-date digital ones.

Then I checked the URL and saw he’s based in the United Kingdom and thought … that still can’t be right.

Now I’m going to think about something that matters a little more, like content.

(Thanks to Donald Winslow for sending me off my morning routine.)


5 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Thanks for the link. I’m afraid that it is true. There are far too many people coming out of UK colleges and universities unaware that the news industry is 99% digital and that the vast majority of those who choose to shoot film have to swallow the costs of processing and scanning. The term “photojournalism” is used differently here and a lot of those teaching it are actually teaching a combination of documentary photography and reportage for the gallery wall.

    There are a few very high profile photographers shooting film and getting their work used but they are in a tiny minority and even they only shoot film when the project suits and budgets allow but. We have a huge disconnect here between academia and industry which is demonstrated by the constant reference to those photographers who do well from shooting film by far too many teachers and tutors on fat too many courses. There are honourable exceptions but they are, themselves, a minority.

    I’m happy to talk further about this… and hello to Don Winslow too. It’s been a long time since we contacted one another!

  2. Mark E. Johnson,

    There are far too many people coming out of UK colleges and universities unaware that the news industry is 99% digital and that the vast majority of those who choose to shoot film have to swallow the costs of processing and scanning.

    That is startling and dismaying.

    For the record, here at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication every last vestige of the darkrooms is gone, excepting one steel reel I keep around to prove why film is not better for photojournalism.

    I’m all for craft, and I’m not against film, but if you want to work in news photography today, if you want to affect change in your communities on a daily basis, it makes no sense.

    Thanks for checking in, Neil, and contributing. Hopefully your academics will come around.

  3. lee,

    the problem is that photography as a university subject was originally designed as an art practice but in the recent past with the notion that you must have a degree we are now ‘training’ people for a job of work. This in my opinion is where there is a disconnect. The notion that you need a degree to photograph news items is a nonsense. Give internships and work based training to those who want to be a ‘professional’ photographer and put photography as an art practice back in art schools. the problem is the mixing of the two as they are totally different things

  4. Mark E. Johnson,

    I suspect that there is still a massive misunderstanding of what a university education is for. I am clear with my students: my responsibility is not to prepare them for any job or career, my responsibility is to prepare them to be productive members of their community.

    My way of doing that happens to be through visual journalism. Anyone who spends the time and money on a four-year program thinking that it’s only role is to get them a job is either delusional or has been deceived.

  5. Well made point Lee. The trouble is that we (in the UK) have too many admissions tutors selling the courses as a direct route into their chosen career and then the students get taught by people who aren’t the admissions tutor and that’s where one of the many disconnects occurs. Probably a majority of students studying photography are never even going to attempt to work as photographers but that still leaves a massive number who leave with huge debts and an inaccurate route map. As a Vice-Chairman of The British Press Photographers’ Association I meet a lot of them and field emails from many more and I feel really sorry for them.

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