My Photo Chemical Romance

Photo Chemical Romance I

Photo Chemical Romance I

Annie Leibovitz said, "Computer photography won't be photography as we know it. I think photography will always be chemical."

This quote has two meanings for me. First, photography as I came to know it was part real chemistry. I remember the smell of D76, stop bath, and fixer like Proust remembered cookies. The physical act of picture taking was followed by the picture making process.

It's not really different in the digital world. There is still the same basic equipment for picture taking, but instead the wet darkroom there is the digital darkroom. It's a different type of chemical reaction. I am not going to enter into the debate over which is better. I think of it as photographic segregation: separate but equal. I don't do anything digitally that I didn't do wetly.

I was speaking to a guy 20 years younger than me about my prints in the Urban Architecture Exhibition. I was describing the type of silver gelatin paper I chose for the print (Hahnemuhle). He looked at me and said, "I don't know what you are talking about." His reality did not include those old choices photographers once had to make. I could bemoan the decline of the analog industry -- and I do somewhat -- because that was how I learned the craft of picture making. For my friend, he can't mourn what he never knew. Besides, as my mates in Alabama 3 say, "Change must come from the barrel of a gun." The gun is technology.

My other interpretation of Leibovitz's quote is not about photo chemicals but about photo chemistry -- between myself and my subject. I think of it as photography pheromones, based on trust.

Either way, photography means Better Things for Better Living...Through Chemistry, to quote an old DuPont advertisement.