My good friend David Thomas alerted me to this article in The New Yorker
This is a really interesting and important article because it looks and addresses the issues that photography now faces. Yes I know that sounds heavy and overblown but there is no doubt that the way we make pictures, what we do with them and how they are consumed has changed, and changed for ever. Don’t worry I am not deaf to all those who tell me film is coming back, it’s just that I think it is doing so only to those who like the film process and mostly those are not the people who are interested in image making. They enjoy the craft based process and uncertainty that they introduce into the image production through lack of control that film can bring if you don’t know what you are doing with it.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JORDAN STRAUSS / INVISION / AP
“Today everything exists to end in a photograph,” Susan Sontag wrote in her seminal 1977 book “On Photography.” This was something I thought about when I recently read that Google was making its one-hundred-and-forty-nine-dollar photo-editing suite, the Google Nik Collection, free. This photo-editing software is as beloved among photographers as, say, Katz’s Deli is among those who dream of pastrami sandwiches.
Before Google bought it, in 2012, the collection cost five hundred dollars. It is made up of seven pieces of specialized software that, when used in combination with other photo-editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom, give photographers a level of control akin to that once found in the darkroom. They can mimic old film stock, add analog photo effects, or turn color shots into black-and-white photos. The suite can transform modestly good photos into magical ones. Collectively, Nik’s intellectual sophistication is that of a chess grand master. I don’t mind paying for the software, and neither do thousands of photographers and enthusiasts. So, like many, I wondered, why would Google make it free?
My guess is that it wants to kill the software, but it doesn’t want the P.R. nightmare that would follow. Remember the outcry over its decision to shut down its tool for R.S.S. feeds, Google Reader? Nik loyalists are even more rabid. By making the software free, the company can both ignore the product and avoid a backlash. But make no mistake: it is only a matter of time before Nik goes the way of the film camera—into the dustbin of technological history.”….
Google’s comments—disheartening as they might be—reflect the reality of our shifting technologies. Sure, we all like listening to music on vinyl, but that doesn’t mean streaming music on Spotify is bad. Streaming just fits today’s world better. I love my paper and ink, but I see the benefits of the iPad and Apple Pencil. Digital photography is going through a similar change, and Google is smart to refocus.
Read the rest of this article and here you can download the Google Nik Software for free
The scariest thing about this for me is the sentence: ‘Upload your photos to Google’s Cloud and the program will sort through them, remove duplicates, pick out the best ones, tag them, build albums of your vacations, and create animated GIFs for you to share with others.’ My photos are not about ‘where’ or ‘who’, I don’t want ‘albums of my vacations’ God help me and I certainly do not want Google to decide what is a ‘good’ photo. If you buy into this you might as well switch off your brain and your sense of self. ‘We are all individuals’, aren’t we?
I think you need to subscribe to Instagram and Pinterest and Facebook to know that most are not individuals. There my cynics credentials revealed
Adobe’s mobile editings apps are woeful compared to Vsco and Snapseed. Modern photographers need the best tools for the job and need to push out images fast before somebody else does. The art of photography and the thought behind pressing the shutter is a different argument altogether . Google interest is in data. I truly believe humans will never lose their curiosity to look and to question.