Uma and her Cameras

Uma is a photographer I met in London during my recent show there. I noted how she carries an old format camera AND a digital one. Most younger people I see today are enamored by chemical film — I had thought it had something to do with the quality of the blacks or the gamut of flesh tones. But in 2010, I understand that most of those technological hurdles in quality are now cleared.

I spoke with Prof Henry Ferreira of RISD’s Printmaking Departmentonce about the arduous task of old-school gravure printing as compared to point-and-click inkjet prints. His comment took me by surprise. He said, “Well, they’re the same for all intents and purposes.” And the it hit me. “But with a different process, you have a different dialogue with the tools. That dialogue takes you to a different place.” So it had nothing to do with the actual output, but everything to do with the person making the work.

So when Uma matter-of-factedly said to me, “I become a different person when I use a different camera. So it always produces different results.” Two Umas from two cameras. The process changes the person, which changes the outcome. -JM