Les Antiquités Nouveaus

Gross, I think my cat just farted.  She’ll be forgiven because of her cuteness, but I’ll wait a bit given her waiting until she was six inches away from me to do it, then leaving right after the deed.  Devious!

Back on track…

There’s been a movement in popular culture towards marketing the vintage aesthetic.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining!  Painted illustrations on seed packets of yore, adorable patterns of polka dots and gingham, it’s all good.  I’m happy to be at the South Portland Hannaford on my lunch break and catch a glimpse of this vision from the West Coast:

Don't they just LOOK like they'd taste better? I've never had canned grapes before, but maybe now I will.

Jeez – these look awesome!  The thought of canned grapes would give me the heebeejeebies if they were packaged any other way.  Kudos to bringin’ back old school in style.

On gripe I do have, though, is the ‘my iPhone makes things look like they do in my family’s photo album from the 70’s’ aesthetic.  And I have good friends who use the apps and I’m not knocking that they’re nifty and a cool trick but when someone’s entire Facebook wall ends up looking the space behind the register at the Thrift Shop that’s been open since the 50’s I’m gonna be all like “Hey, 2011 called, it’s wondering when you’re going to get here.”

Dear iPhone old-photograph-app user:  You’re not fooling anyone.  I know you didn’t magically get your hands on old Diana or Rollei, take a bunch of pictures of your sailboating trip, develop the film, scan the negs and post them to your Facebook wall.  And even if you did, Kodachrome was way better color balanced than this.  Your overly red or overly yellow photograph has not changed color because it’s been sitting in a well-loved photo album for years.  I don’t care what you do, and it really doesn’t bother me that you think your telephone is a camera, but just don’t pretend like your world is more romantic now that it’s all grainy and oversaturated.  Love, Bee-in-her-Bonnet Audrey.

Phew!  I’ve been meaning to get that off my chest.  At the end of the day, I don’t really care — but what’s the point of using new technology if what we’re trying to recreate is that of 50 years ago?  Y’all know that I love film, and my camera was manufactured somewhere between 1960 and 1980 and it chugs through expensive film like it’s its job.  I LOVE shooting with it.  But I’ve also recently been introduced to the world of the DSLR and am growing fond of all the things it can do for me.

by Julia Margaret Cameron

Here.  When photography was beginning to be used as an artistic medium in the late 1800s photographers mainly sprang from two traditions:  the scientist and the painter.  Some adapted their unwieldy cameras to ‘paint’ tableaus with light and models who stood very, very, very still.  From the scientific side photographers shot cityscapes and panoramas, eager to introduce photography as a way of creating more and more realistic lithographs for book publications.

So is it any wonder that with the advent of a very revolutionized form of photography (digital) that its users are seeking to create something they know?  Not strange, no, but remember…

Edward Weston may or may not have ever said "Hey, look how sharp I can make things!"

It wasn’t until the f64 group (read:  Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Ansel Adams, etc. etc.) began saying: “God damn!  This camera is awesome but why are we not using it to its full potential?  Look at how sharp I can make things!” and then applied it to their own artistic expression, did the medium of photography really start coming in to its own as an art form.

Let’s stop pretending our shiny, new picture-takers are relics of the past.  Let’s agree not to abuse color shifts and saturation.  Let’s agree that a good photograph should be just that whether it’s grainy or crisp, fuzzy or dialed-in, vignetting or no.

Rant over!

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