I recently finished reading David Sax's fascinating book The Revenge of Analog and it really got me thinking about the way that I consume. Over the past few years I've come to doubt my constant push into digital culture. I've proudly been an early adopter on many occasions without asking myself, "does this actually make my life better?"
As an almost exclusively digital photographer, sometimes I feel like I skipped a step in the process. Sure I had old film cameras when I was a kid but I never learned anything beyond point and shoot. There's an art in composing an image without knowing what it will look like until the developing process. It forces you to really know the concepts of exposure, film speed, focus and depth of field. Many digital cameras do the work for you. It's certainly helpful, but is it robbing you of the experience, the wonder of not knowing?
My friend Danny reintroduced me to film photography as we walked the streets of Seattle a few years ago. His Leica was definitely a lavish way to dip my toes into the art form. I was honestly petrified as I looked through the viewfinder because each time I hit that button, I was committed to whatever image I had captured. It was exhilarating.
A DigiLog Future
Today I carry around a Fujifilm X-T20 with a simple 27mm pancake lens. It's digital but it looks like an old film camera and you can turn off the back screen forcing you to look through the viewfinder and not look at images right after they've been taken. It's a semi-compromise in a ever quickening digital world. The functionality of digital exposures coupled with the slow method of not looking at every picture immediately after it's taken. I have also put every setting to fully manual, forcing me to rely on my eyes and hands to focus, set shutter speed, aperture and ISO.
There's a satisfaction that comes with analog technology that you don't always get with digital. Take listening to a vinyl record. This past Christmas, my lovely wife bought me my first turntable and included was a copy of Glen Hansard's Didn't He Ramble. As I sat and basked in the songs, I realized something. I hadn't listened to one of my favorite albums all the way through, probably since the day it was released. Amazing songs like "Paying My Way" and "Stay The Road" were routinely skipped over in iTunes playlists. The act of listening to the record on vinyl made me slow down and appreciate the complete album as art.
Does that mean I'm giving up on my iTunes and AppleMusic playlists? Off course not, but maybe I need to work on trying to bridge the digital and analog divide. Why not make album playlists and listen to the content as the artist originally intended.
There's nothing wrong with digital technology as long as it actually brings value to your life and doesn't serve as a distraction from the world around you. In this fast paced world we live in, slowing down a little bit is probably a good thing. Take the time to appreciate the things in your life that take time, effort and craft. You never know what might actually spark a new interest.