Photography Exhibit

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Yesterday I had an appointment downtown.  I had planned on heading over to Carry Town afterward so that I could pick up some things from the local “all natural” market, Ellwood Thompson’s, but along the way, I ended up at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts first.  Sometimes you just gotta go where your soul leads you.  I was pleased to see that there was a traveling photography exhibit currently on display, and happily paid my $10 to go take a peak.  The exhibit, “Posing Beauty in African American Culture”, is quite lovely; the photography is timeless, and beautiful, but I had one issue… The majority of the photos were taken from 1890-1980’s, butt he majority of the prints on display were “digital print[s]”.  I know I’m all about analog right now, but I’d like to point out that there is a huge difference in a print made from a digital printer (even a photo quality printer), and a print made using the gelatin silver process.  The prints on the wall of photographs made in the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s, etc, that were “digital prints” had no where near depth, character, and feeling as those that were silver gelatin prints.  The digital prints felt cold and flat where the others felt more warm and regal.  I don’t know why some of the older photos were printed from digital copies, it’s quite possible the original negatives, or prints may have been destroyed along the way.  Some of the raw, gritty emotions that the photographers of the time were trying to capture however, were down played, in my opinion, by the lack of (silver) grain in the images, even a damaged or roughed up print from the time, in my opinion, would have been more authentic and portrayed the art as it was envisioned by the artist.  Sometimes, as a photographer, it’s that grit, and little bit of rough look that you are actually going for, and I think the images being printed digitally did a disservice to the original works by the original artists.  While the exhibit was lovely, I feel like the addition of so many digital prints made it feel as if they had rushed to put the exhibit together.  I, and I’m sure many other people, would have gladly volunteered my time to print the images “the old fashioned” way to help to maintain the authenticity and feel of the images.  Just my $0.02 for the day.  I do recommend going to see it if you are in town, and if the addition of the digital prints won’t make you cringe like it did me;)

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