Chautauqua Photo Week – Day Three

Posted by on Jul 28 2010 | Other, Photography

I’m a film girl.  I say this shyly, quietly, but pointedly.  Aesthetically, I love the look of film.

But three weeks ago I bought a digital camera for the first time in my life.  I am now hooked on its simplicity, ease, and instant gratification.   And to think I have Steve Sasson to thank for it.

Yes, Steve Sasson.  Not a household name like Thomas Edison or George Eastman.  But at least the 3,000 plus attendees at this morning’s amphitheatre talk at Chautauqua now know it.  Steve and his wife have been in Chautauqua all week, which has given me an opportunity to think a bit about the impact of Steve’s work.  How different this Week on Photography would be if Steve had not pursued this rather small and secretive project at the Eastman Kodak Company during the 1970’s.

Steve Sasson during his lecture this morning

The who’s who in photography here in Chautauqua are fully aware of how digital technology has transformed their work in one way or another.   And I’m not just talking about Steve McCurry and Ed Kashi, photojournalists who transitioned from film to digital many years ago, and whose clients insist on digital capture.

Commercial photographer Ross Whitaker is here giving portfolio reviews and teaching courses in how to take great photographs.  Not sure anyone who brought photographs for Ross to review uses film….and no one in his class brought a film camera.  Ross’s own work now incorporates multimedia digital elements of movement and sound.

Ross Whitaker taking a picture of George Eastman House Director Tony Bannon

Jeff Dunas, fine art photographer and founder of the Palm Springs Photo Festival, arrives this afternoon…I’ve talked to Jeff about this digital transformation previously — he shoots digitally for commercial work but uses film for his fine art. (I’m not the only one who loves the aesthetic of film!)

Jimmy Colton, long-time Picture Editor for Sports Illustrated is here talking about faux-tography, and while Jimmy cites darkroom examples of manipulating images, there’s no question that photo manipulation has become more pervasive with the digital revolution, raising interesting ethical questions about truth in photography.  Jimmy’s work as a Picture Editor (and Jennifer Gregory’s job as Picture Editor at the Washington Post, pictured below with Jimmy) has shifted significantly due to digital…allowing him to almost instantaneously choose images beamed to him from across the globe.

Jennifer Gregory and Jimmy Colton

I’m not completely naïve – I recognize (as does Steve Sasson) that the advances in the way we communicate and connect with images would not have been possible without advances in personal computing and video technology.  But without Steve’s work, I probably wouldn’t be sending images directly to facebook from my blackberry, and I sure wouldn’t be able to share photos on a blog 10 minutes after I’ve captured them.

So, thanks Steve Sasson.  You’ve helped meet our need for instant gratification.

…satisfying my need for instant gratification

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    Pamela Sanchez is a member of the Senior Staff of George Eastman House. She's a blogging neophyte just venturing into the 21st century.

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