Photography has come full circle. Before Fox Talbot and Daguerre were able to permanently ‘fix’ the photographic image, the camera obscura offered a method of temporarily displaying an image. Today’s equivalent would be the image that is generated on the screens of our digital devices. An algorithm enables a series of pixels to be displayed for an instant. However, the origin of the digital photograph is difficult to define. It’s pixels can be moved and rearranged to alter its appearance. Therefore it is difficult to determine which version is the original and where it exists.
Recently, there has been a demand for printed photographs. Polaroid cameras are making a comeback! People want to be able to see a physical product, which they can hold and display in frames, on walls and mantle pieces.
One of the differences between analogue and digital photographs is that paper-based photographs age, like their subjects. Over time, the ink fades and the paper gets creased and wrinkled. Meanwhile, the digital image looks as new as it did when it was first created.
Framed photographs benchmark significant life events, such as births, first days at school, birthdays, weddings and other special occasions. If they are physically in the rooms where we spend our time, we are able to easily refer back to those moments.
With this in mind, I should make more of an effort to print out family photographs so that my sons can easily look back on their own memories. Otherwise, why am I taking photographs? There doesn’t seem much point keeping thousands of images stored on hard drives if they will never be looked at again.