From Film to Digital

Kaitlyn Ancell

Tom de Castella’s article, “Five Ways the Digital Camera Changed Us” (2012), asserts that the creation of digital photography has changed the way people view photography as an art form and our behavior toward the new widely accessible medium, in both negative and positive ways. Castella supports this by outlining five different ways technology has changed photography and our views of it, such as the amount of photos we take, the reasons for present day photography, the effect on citizen journalism, the quality of photos, and the way we archive them. The author’s purpose of the article is to inform the reader of how film photography transitioned into an entirely different form of art because of digital technology, in order to bring to attention the way society has shifted its values in photography, and how it is effecting professional photographers. Due to the elementary vocabulary regarding some photo elements, the intended audience for the article are readers who are acutely knowledgeable in the way digital and film photography works and those interested in the way technology has made on impact on photography.

Digital photography has revolutionized our behavior towards photography as a society ever since the first digital camera was created. However, the major changes have been mostly due to social media and the accessibility of photos taken right from a phone. The article, written in 2012, assesses that the iPhone 4S was astonishing by having almost the same amount of megapixels of a cheap digital camera. Comparing that to the iPhone 6S in 2016, the iPhone camera now contains 12 megapixels and is the mostly widely used camera in the world. People can, for the most part, shoot unlimited amounts of photos without the hassle of wasting money developing film for a bad shot. The author illuminated the difference between photos people used to take with film cameras to the digital photos taken now. In the present day, it is extremely normal to document every second of our lives, from pictures of our food to what we bought from the thrift store down the road. The way society has shifted the composition of photography has made it almost disposable. There are millions of pictures lost in the archives of the internet that will not be readily available to document history like the ones in your mom’s wedding photobook. Instead of documenting candid shots with meaningful intentions, people are pointing and shooting everything they think will get the most likes on Instagram. How will this affect our perception of history when looking back in 50 years? The way we store photos will have significant impact on what photos we will value in history for the future.

However, the emergence of digital photography has impacted the field in positive ways as well. Citizen journalism has sparked with the use of digital photography on phones. There are thousands of videos of unexpected events that everyday people have captured. Instead of anticipating the most important events to shoot, journalists can access their cameras immediately, not missing many potential revolutionary happenings. Also, the ability to shoot more photographs has created better quality pictures and better photographers. Artists can now experiment with different angles, exposures, apertures, and other settings without having to risk the money on film. The technology has given photographers the ability to perfect their craft through the lenses with the ability to review their photos on screen, as well as through manipulation in digital programs like Adobe Photoshop.

Has the accessibility and quality of digital photography not only changed the way we experience the world around us, but how we perceive it as well? Has our widespread use of photography devalued it as an art form?

Castell, Tom de. “Five Ways the Digital Camera Changed Us.” BBC News Magazine. The British Broadcasting Corporation, 28 Feb. 2012. Web. 1 March 2016.


3 thoughts on “From Film to Digital

  1. You did a great in depth analysis of this article! I like that you compared our camera usage today against the old photobook intentions of our parents’ generation. I personally love how accessible cameras are because looking back at old pictures helps me remember what was happening when I took the photo. So, in a way, it’s one of the few arts that can capture more than an idea or aesthetic appeal. Photos have the unique ability to capture life as it occurs. However, with so many pictures over-saturating our social media, I do hope that one day we will learn to weed through the abundance and share meaningful pictures with the next generation, much like how our parents shared their meaningful photos with us.


  2. There is a very large gray area when it comes to deciding what is a meaningful, artistic photo and what is excessive use. When you look at how far photography has come it does present some wonderful options for artists to shoot more and worry less. I guess the question is do they pros outweigh the cons? The same positive options for photographers can be negative consequences for them as well. Since everyone has a relatively nice camera in their pockets they do not feel like they are professionals. Is the photography field depleting? Nowadays every teenager on Facebook documents everything they do with their smartphone. Is that devaluing photography art? When does it become non-art? Where do you draw the line at photographer or teenager with a smart phone? These are difficult questions, but I’m glad to hear a new voice in the argument.



  3. When cameras were first invented, people criticized it, refusing to admit it was a new field of art. It is more like a fear of the new tool than simply rejecting it. Today, taking pictures of everyday things has become so normalized with our phone being our main source for anything and everything. While this allows for convenience many are lost and immersed in social media. As for those in the field of photography, technology has evolved and allowed for perfecting of this art form. I feel that while photography has become increasingly widespread, instead of devaluing the art it has created an increase in interest. It’s obvious to everyone a high quality photo shot with an actual camera and effort into what they were capturing versus a saved screen shot of a Snapchat. I feel that photography is something that has benefited both the professional and nonprofessional aspects.


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