Who will really grasp digital? And why Kodak may not survive.
The most well known films produced by the Kodak Corporation, which may shortly be filing for bankruptcy, like Tri-X, Kodachrome and my much loved Ektachrome 64, gave photographers a wonderful, if limited,
pallet palette with which to express themselves. Digital photography, on the other hand, effectively has no such constraints making it much harder to pin the medium in the mind and be creative – to really run with digital. Well, that’s what I was getting at on the BBC World Service last night. Yes, digital photography has yet to be mastered. Someone will do it, but who?
I also failed to mention how Kodak’s problems today echo their reluctance to radically update their products throughout the 1970s and 80s. It was only the introduction by Japanese rival Fuji, of films like Fuji Velvia in 1990 that seemed to shake things up at the corporation and force Kodak to look to the future. They’d done the groundwork of course. Believe it or not, Kodak invented the digital camera in 1975, but then left others to really drive digital technology forward. Looking back, perhaps the writing was on the wall even then.
Text © 2012 Graham Harrison