Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Photography: Memory, Modernity and Change

I was drawn to take the photograph because of the closure of the Jessop photographic retail chain. There was once a Jessop store in Dublin - that one replaced an independent, but it is long closed. Now the whole chain has folded with the loss of three and a half thousand jobs. When I first came to live in Dublin there were many camera shops and it was great fun to search for a second hand lens. Now that is virtually impossible. So I guess I'm talking about loss. A group therapist of mine once said that change means loss and she never said a truer word. The change to digital was a savage blow to diehard photographers. The awful part of the saga is that digital is not as good as the format it replaced. The detail available from a negative beats digital hands down. But the change also makes this kind of publishing accessible and the environmental impact is much reduced. Yet sometimes in my thoughts, I find myself back in the darkroom bathed in an eerie red light - and I can smell the chemicals. In fact, there was something alchemical about watching an image swim into view in the developing tray, a transformation I no longer witness. In psychotherapy, we stress the necessity of adapting to change. But that doesn't mean forgetting old ways, because they have a way of returning and biting us in a painful spot.