Death to “Analogue Photography”

I passionately despise the term “Analogue Photography.”

Part of it is the linkage between the term and Lomography. The company and the accompanying movement did do one good thing for film photography: it created a new demand for film by making crappy cameras trendy. Of course, the price for that was the escalation of prices of previously cheap crappy cameras. And hipsters. Oh, so many hipsters. The horror . . . the horror .

I disliked the term because it was largely meaningless. It defined the medium of film by differentiating it from digital, a medium that came after it, which is backwards. Rail travel is not “Pre-flight travel.” World War One is not “The War that came before the War in the 1940s.” The subsequent invention of digital photography did not change what film photography is.

Sure, it impacted the volume of film sold, and greatly slowed the development and number of new film cameras made. But it did not change the nature of film photography. To invent a new name for something because you’re new to it is silly and confusing. Oddly enough none of the people who use this term I’ve talked to have known who knew who William Henry Fox Talbot was. Or Man Ray, or Robert Capa, or Lee Miller, or Imogen Cunningham, or Dorothea Lange, or Henri Cartier-Bresson, or Berenice Abbott. The history and significance of photography started when they picked up a camera. It is a term preferred by know-nothings.

I think what irritates me the most about the term is it relegates film to something unimportant: a thing that happened and then was superseded and forgotten, a trivial footnote. As if the documentation of human history and the world for the last 150 years or so is of no consequence. As if the creation of fine art and inspiration means nothing.

So what do I use instead? I just call it what it is. Film photography. Or wet plate. Or Daguerreotype. If you have to come up with a cutesy marketing phrase, I suppose “Legacy Photography” might be the least off base. Or “Alternative Processes” for the latter types of photography.

Let’s kill the phrase “Analogue Photography”and be done with it. The words you use are indicative of your thinking. If the collective IQ of photographers can’t be raised enough to kill this phrase, let’s at least sound less pretentious and ignorant.