Instamatic for the People
Once there were only two certainties in life: death and taxes. Now it seems that there’s a third – there’ll be a new camera along in a minute. The recent pace of change in photography has been head-spinningly rapid and it doesn’t seem as though it will be slowing down any time soon.
This is all due of course to the advent of the affordable digital camera. You would only have to go back twelve short years to find that the choice of digital camera was limited to a few models. And that your pockets would need to be very deep indeed if you wanted a camera that could get close to the image quality we now take for granted.
I started my photography career aged fifteen with a Kodak Instamatic. This was a black plastic box with a hinged black plastic lid in which you inserted a black plastic film cartridge. If you let your thumb go anywhere near the lens when taking a picture all your prints came back, well… black. Not that I minded, because I had a camera. I was a photographer.
Sadly, and sympathy is always appreciated, the money from my paper-round didn’t stretch to buying many of those black plastic film cartridges. This meant that it took a long time to develop my skills as a photographer because I couldn’t afford to practise.
Now everyone has a camera, whether it’s the latest high-megapixel DSLR or one built into a mobile phone (now that’s something that would have surprised my teenage self – a phone that’s mobile, which would only have been possible then if the cable on the phone had been long enough). This means that everyone can now be a photographer and be a photographer at any time of day or night.
This is as exciting a development as the ubiquity of the digital camera. The potential for personal creative growth, and being able to publicly express that creativity, is now unlimited. You only have to witness the development of photo sharing sites such as flickr to confirm this. There are now a lot of talented photographers, both professional and amateur, producing work that would not have been possible at the start of this century.
That is truly heartening. Less heartening however, is the fact that my VAT return is now due again and I think the batteries on my laptop are about to