Reality has curves. Film can capture these curved perfectly, but digitized images approximate these curves using lots of straight sided pixels. Is this conversion worth it?
Just before I moved to the U.S. in 2006, I went through all my parent’s photographs and scanned to take them with me. Several shoe boxes full of printed pictures was distilled a thumb-sized USB disk. And it did its job - when I was homesick I could look through the pictures and relive my happiest memories. I could easily share the images online with family and friends.
I recently tried to print out some of the scans and the results were terrible. Even at a 4x6 size they were pixelated. I’m glad the analog originals still exist so new scans can be made with modern equipment.
What also struck me is that my young kids don’t have direct access to the pictures, or any of my digital pictures. The pictures live on my password protected laptop. Even without a password, it would be hard for a 3 year old to log on to my computer, dig to my picture folder, and wade through the images to find the best ones.
Here’s the thing. I gladly tolerate the low quality scans and all my locked-away high-megapixel digital images. It’s the same as tolerating MP3s - the quality is dreadful compared to CDs or vinyl, but the convenience of carrying thousands of songs in our pockets makes it worth it. And we’ve been doing it so long we don’t even remember what high-fidelity music sounded like anyway. Technological progress isn’t for better quality, it is for greater convenience.
So I took a film photography of a scanned image on my computer screen. I call this image ‘Convenience’ because it is a very poor quality version of one of my most treasured pictures of my parents from the 1960s. This print will last a lifetime longer than the digital file, and my kids will stumble across it after I’m gone and think about why I made it. Paper in a frame is not password protected, but ironically I can only share a digital version with you here for convenience.