Living Backwards in a Forwards World

In 1839, the Daguerreotype was the first device to capture reality in its true essence. Thus, photography was birthed; people at the time even dubbed it as “the mirror with a memory.”(1) The Daguerreotype met the need for a factual representation of reality. In addition, this new technology allowed one to be photographed and to be transformed from “subject into object.”(2) Likewise, digital cameras of today serve the same purpose in capturing the fleeting moment. However, with the age of digitalization there has never been an overabundance of tasteless images, including mine. This is due to in part to the fact instant gratification of our digital cameras have cultivated an environment on impatience; making us become frustrated when the first attempt is not the “perfect” attempt or become complacent in the poorly composed images. However, one man is counteracting this concept.

Ken Toda, owner of Huemaxx in High Point, NC, was gracious enough to allow me to spend time with him and photograph him last Saturday. Ken is a photographer that has an extensive background in film photography that started in the late 1960’s. In addition with that knowledge he has preserved the history of this great art. In the Huemaxx (Google map virtual tour) shop Ken has a wide variety and large inventory of camera’s ranging from view cameras to Lieca range finders like the ones that Henri-Cartier Bresson is most famous for using. Mr. Toda admits that technology today has its vice grips on us and if we choose to go anywhere with a career in photography we must take on this new face of technology. However, we must step in to this new era with caution and use our resources wisely.

Ken Toda View Camera

Ken poses in front of a view camera

Film photography is not looking all dim and grim in these times. Many photographers are bringing the film back. They are finding out how beautiful that grain is versus silver halides (light sensitive grain.) Digital photography has tried to eliminate the need for analog photography but there are people such as Ken Toda who believe in the powerful stability of film. With the help of companies like Kickstarter, analog photography seems to be making a comeback. However, an article from USA News reveals that film photography still could die off “there’s a very real fear that, someday soon, fresh film might no longer be available.” (3) The future may have a dim light at the end of the tunnel. The fact of the matter is that unless we learn to appreciate analog photography and understand it than people like Ken Toda and his knowledge of a simpler time may in fact become obsolete.

Special thanks to Ken Toda in allowing me to photograph him. Visit Ken’s website Huemaxx.

Sources

  1. Naomi Rosenblum A World History of Photography.
  2. Roland Barthes Camera Lucida translated by Richard Howard.
  3. Brendan Nystedt “How Kickstarter is saving film photography”
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