Photographer Don McCullin Deems Digital Photography “Untruthful”

In the wake of the digital photography revolution, some embrace the idea, quickly forming and adapting to the ideologies informed by this new media while others oppose and stick to old ways.

We recently touched on this article on the future of photography which suggested the advent of a paradigm that fully embraced the fluidity of perspective. This ideology considers “raw” and“unfiltered” photographs to be as arbitrary as any filtered photo. Perhaps swept up by a wave of postmodern chaos suddenly all perspectives are viewed as equal and relative to each other. All hierarchies regarding analog and digital photography seem to be invalid.

Veteran photographer Don McCullin known for his war photographs in Vietnam is much more unwelcoming towards digital photography than some of his contemporaries are. According to the Guardian…

He said photography had been “hijacked” because “the digital cameras are extraordinary. I have a dark room and I still process film but digital photography can be a totally lying kind of experience, you can move anything you want … the whole thing can’t be trusted really.”

Rejecting new technology is not necessarily retrograde. Even the great Susan Sontag rejected the computer and stuck to hand-written drafts because it helped her think slower, deeper.

McCullin particularly dislikes how digital cameras allow for manipulation of colours. “These extraordinary pictures in colour, it looks as if someone has tried to redesign a chocolate box,” he said. “In the end, it doesn’t work, it’s hideous.”

Perhaps there is some truth to that. When images are altered with romantic filters it surely does sugar coat the truth. The retro-looking Instagram photos really do make things look a 100 times more exciting and envy-worthy then it actually is (surely that’s part of why the service is so popular).

So the question is not so much which is better, but how the change of media from analog to digital changes the outcome of the photograph.

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