I am a sympathetic man – I can contemplate a basket of kittens with placid good will and real affection – especially if they are accompanied by battered onion rings and a spicy sauce.
Likewise I view the follies of youth with amusement when I see them out courting or strutting the city or dashing their skulls against lamp posts on skateboards. I remember my own youth – when I did none of the above and was better for it.
I am torn between affection and loathing when the young bring their photographic ambitions into the shop – because they frequently do not recognise how good they have it already and seem determined to tie themselves to an anchor of old junk equipment and processes and throw themselves off the jetty. If this were not photography – a subject I love – I would help them with the anchor chain and the suicide note.
As it is I plead with them to make the most of the possibilities of the current digital gear – even the crudest of cameras can teach photography better than anything leftover from the film era. A little thought before, during, and after the shot means that each exposure can be a lecture. Look. Think. Shoot. Look again. Correct the errors. Ditch the duds. pay no more than you need for printing and keep all the prints.
I know there are those who wax nostalgic for film, plates, glass collodion, and all the chemicals and poisons of the 19th century. I presume they also extend this emotion to public hangings and the use of the ram on battleships – I know I do. But aside from this, I cannot help but think that the historians are missing out on the chance to do a great deal well and cheaply – there is little financial excuse for a $ 31 roll of slide film that will attract a further charge of $ 16 for processing and then need to be scanned before digitising and printing processing. The very cost prohibits frequent use and increased chances for development – no pun intended.
By all means become lustful for the full figures of the girls of the fifties, but do not feel yourself bound to the processes and gear of the time. It wasn’t that hot. And now, if it is in decent condition it will cost you a bomb – if it is in poor condition it will waste your time and the good will of your subjects.