Drop The Digital From Photography

I heard it again yesterday for the billionth time: “Digital Photography”. Isn’t it time we drop the word ‘digital’?

Seems we’ve managed to drop the “electric” from “electric guitar” in common parlance.

We found it easy to drop the word “acrylic” from “acrylic painting” when that came on the scene with oils.

We quickly ditched the “digital” from “digital music” when it took the lead over records and tapes and CDs.

I suppose by-and-large our industry has dropped the word, but given that digital and analog photography are fundamentally the same thing, isn’t it time we implore the rest of the world to assimilate the term “digital photography” back into “photography” as a whole?

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I could not agree more, how stupid does it sound!!?!?

I would never call myself a “digital” photographer!


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Many years ago we had a very similar situation with old vinyl records and CD’s. Neither is right or wrong, they are just different and actually now, many years later the whole arguement has very little relevance – the most important thing is it’s just music! Photographically it’s surely the same? It’s the image that matters, not what was used to create it or what the tool is called?

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Corrina says:

I couldn’t agree more with you! Whether digital or film.. Photography is photography! It is an art regardless of the process in which capturing the image!

Do you think by adding “digital” in front of photography it is taking away from the importance of it? I’m of the impression that most people just assume photographers are using digital cameras these days. It isn’t a question we get asked much anymore. More commonly, we’ll have the question: “What type/model/brand of camera do you shoot with?” I always answer back… “I big black one” because our point is it isn’t the type of camera you use, it’s what you do with it. I think it’s our job as photographers to sell our artistic vision and our mastery of our trade more than anything else. Then it doesn’t matter if it’s digital photography or photography… it’s Art.

I had a planner at a wedding ask me the other day to go ahead and switch to “black & white” while shooting b/c she felt it would portray a different “feel”. I kinda wanted to laugh for a min since I shoot all digitally. I just looked at her and smiled and said… ok I sure will.

I think MOST people assume that photographers shoot digitally but some still ask. So I think it’s sometimes necessary to say “digital photography”

I pretty much started with digital cameras so the whole film thing is a little foreign to me. I couldn’t imagine not being able to have that instant gratification of looking at an image right away. Props to you film folks.

Graham says:

I’m really bored with the comments from film shooters suggesting you can just take any old exposure wth digital and then create the image you want later in post. Sure shooting RAW gives you some latitude, but you better be close if you want a high quality print. And film gave us plenty of lattitude in the higlights, I didn’t have to worry much about overexposure in black and white with film and I didnt have to do any post if I used a lab (I did a lot of my own dark room work though).

But this idea that film is somehow pure and digital is cheating is rubbish, if you’re such a purist why use (relatively) modern film, thats cheating isn’t it? Autofocus? light meters? in camera metering? zoom lenses? Where do you draw the line? And what about darkroom techniques like dodging and burning?

Let me ask you this, if you shoot 35mm film would it piss you off if I demanded you specifically state that it’s 35mm film photography because I shoot MF and I want people to understand what you’re doing is inferior. Or that I only shoot prime lenses so you should call yours 35mm zoom lense photography. Or maybe you should have to say which brand of camera/lens you are using.

BTW it’s only photographers that even care about any of this, most people wouldn’t know or care about any of these differences. It’s like trying to get my gf to hear the difference between CD and vinyl.

visitor says:

Photography as a whole encompasses digital in this era of digital media, often called “new media”. I do not agree, however, that film and digital photography are the same. They do the same thing- in the end result of capturing an image with a camera. There is no substitute for film, enlargers, and the quality of silver halide in dark room prints.
In the process of obtaining a Bachelor of Fine Art- it is now required for students to learn both dark room traditional process as well as digital. They both can be included under the umbrella term of “Photography” but it is still nice to have the distinction between the different types. For the general public- it is just simple to label it all photography, which is the common term for the most part.
There are still even more issues with digital imaging and the decay of JPG files that separate film and the digital era. Over a span of 10 years a JPG photograph can be destroyed internally in a computers memory for no known reason other than the compression of file data. Digital is not all its cracked up to be folks, its a ticking time bomb in my opinion. Just look at how fast Adobe is coming up with updates & camera manufacturers releasing ten new camera bodies every year with new software…. its like when the floppy disk went obsolete… and now watch while CD-Rs and DVDs become extinct as well. What next?


james says:

couldn’t disagree more. digital and film are different. different technologies, different techniques, different philosophies, different histories. don’t force everyone into the same camp just because you’re into “photographer unity”…plz. we’ll stay in our camp and you stay in yours. digital photography does not represent photography, and they’re plenty of people who agree with me.

Chase says:

that’s just it, james.

why the “camps”? i shoot both digitally and i shoot film. so do i have to choose one?

these distinctions are trying at best and artificial at worst. the word photography means writing with light. isn’t that what we’re doing?

Sean Mullany says:

It’s different. Electric guitar is totally different than acoustic, and if you talk to musicians they’ll tell you that. And music is just music. The final product is the same at the beginning and the end: a song. Just because digitalism dominates our western world does not mean it defines us as it so often does these days. We have come to expect digital as the norm. Not that we have to accept it.. I feel some professionals have the right to believe that distinction is sometimes necessary. Hence the resurgence of an analog resistance.

Most people dont give a flip anymore. Photography for the masses is just that. Photography for a bunch of people who don’t really care about production methods; they just want it to look good. And there’s a lot of them, so you know from the start you can’t please them all. So take a million pictures and have THEM choose THE one. They don’t really care how it came about anyways.. Maybe I’ve sniffed too many chemicals in the darkroom, but I know you know the difference. Its just easier to do it digitally :)

I think a lot of people have already dropped it. I shoot mostly digi but some 120mm as well, and I can safely say I’m over it. Real photography is in the eye; it is organically produced before the camera is even taken into consideration. The camera (and thus the reproduction of an image) is merely a mechanism. Photography is light and speed and composition and color and flow and depth and a million other things no proud prefix can confine. Call it whatever you want, but I’ll know it when I see it ;)

jon edwards says:

just discovered this Chase person, who seems to love the sound of his own voice

why do you talk so much Chase ?

maybe its a fear of loneliness

Chase says:


seriously jon? there are 140,000,000 blogs on line. if you don’t like this one, there are many others. i didn’t ask you to visit.

your refund is in the mail.

Davd B. says:

Digital still is new. very new. it’s gotten amazingly better in just a few years! and it will continue to become better and better and better…. I’m sure the term “digital photography” will be dropped soon anyways as digital seems industry standard by now.

That said, I personally have more immense respect for photographers who use traditional darkroom & film photography as their craft/art forms in photography. To see a photograph that has Never seen photoshop nor been through computer image processing to me deserves massive respect. Especially these days when i see digital labs filled with people sitting on their butts at a computer only to get up to check on their inkjet prints. To actually shoot film, develop it standing up, moving trays, moving around! mixing chemicals, making photographic prints on light-sensitive paper, etc., is truly an amazing skill that is rapidly disappearing. I think of Immogen Cunningham in her darkroom at 80 years old mixing chemicals and producing beautiful exhibition prints on silver fiber paper. Her body of work is stunning and true & produced through skills that are under-appreciated these days when so many beautiful photographs are being cranked out of a canon 5d, where another photographer is born every 5 minutes with the ease of a intel based computer & a digital slr.

So yeah, remove “digital” for sure from photography, because it has changed and is standard. But it would be nice to come up with a new term for the old traditional form of photography that was pre-computer & built from photosensitive organic materials if only out of respect.

Paul Jay says:

It’s still an Electric Guitar. Or anAcoustic guitar. For a professional guitar player this is a BIG BIG difference.

But i hear ya

Lonnie says:

Totally agreee. In fact I think it is being droppped. Maybe my mind has blocked it out but I am not hearing it that much. Clients aren’t asking for digital photography. They are simply asking for photography– good photography.

CHI says:

no, we will hang on to it like we hang onto inches and feet instead of going to the metric system. =)

Greg says:

The medium is very important you can achive with digital and Photoshop many things you will never achieve with film in the Darkroom, So there is a big diference between getting your picture in you camera and getting the picture in your computer.

you need better skills to take a great picture with film. For me photogrphy is film, digital photography is sometimes closer to computer drawing or image design


satrain18 says:

That’s elitist.

Matt Duke says:

I couldn’t agree more. Photography is an art, and the tools used to produce that art shouldn’t dictate how it is communicated.

claude etienne says:

Hi Chase,

I think I understand the point that you’re trying to make. Photography should just be photography and, regardless of the medium, the ultimate goal should be to create images. Nonetheless, there are differences between digital and film, especially when it comes to post processing. I don’t believe that putting digital in front of photography is problematic. Isn’t there a class on creative live called Fundamentals of Digital Photography? Obviously, there is a need to distinguish between both.

Austin Joffe says:


I think that in some situations, using the word “digital” would be necessary.

When talking about photography in general, I think you’re right, drop the “digital” from photography; but only because you’re talking about photography in general, and “digital” would be irrelevant.

When you’re talking about how photography was 30 years ago to someone that is a digital photograph(er) I think it would be necessary to identify film photography and digital photography.

Film photography is still very popular to many people. And for those people, I think it would be important exaggerate that, not as far as grain, or the quality of the film, but exaggerate the point. “Digital” should stick.

Anyone who is or has been introduced to the world of photography in the past 5 years, probably only knows the digital realm. I wonder if Jasmine Star knows what pushing film is, or how to do it? Or how to tone a silver print? Not that she should, but she’s a relatively new photographer. In this situation, I think “digital” should be dropped.

If B&H dropped digital, that could be a confusing way to shop.

Overall, I think I would agree, as long as it’s dropped in relevant terms.

JoeH says:

While I couldn’t agree more….good luck with that!

We haven’t been able to even BUY leaded gas since 1975. Yet every gasoline station I know of lists their gas as “unleaded” !?

relapse says:

Just to look back at a post from this blog last year

“Mulling it over, I couldn’t articulate it fully but definitely, I knew I had become lazy, really lazy. A spectacular sloth by the standards of shooting film. Film is hard. Film is a stone cold unforgiving killing bastard. Film is once in a lifetime, no excuses. F8 and really, really be there: ready, steady, in focus, correct exposure, and pressing the shutter in synch with life.”

there is a difference.

sure you can be one and the same, but the difference has to be recognized

Chase Jarvis says:

and i wouldn’t change a word from that paragraph.

the point is that both are photography. sure when we dissect photography, we can talk about a hundred thin slices of it.

but it’s all photography, right?

should there be a book called composing for digital photography?

Jeremy says:

Trouble is in your original paragraph you made inaccurate comments about guitars and painting which makes it hard to see where you’re coming from re digital photography.

Still raining here…

Danielle says:

As a film lover, I appreciate the distinction. Is it 100% necessary all the time? Of course not. Sadly, I assume most people are digital photographers until I see their work or hear otherwise so it’s almost pointless to have to use the word ‘digital’. I’ll be using the words ‘film photographer’ since I’m now in the elite and beloved minority :D

Mike Moss says:

I agree that people should stop saying “digital photography.” They should start calling it “digital imaging” because it is morphing into a completely separate medium from film photography.

Chris says:

I agree Chase. It is still just photography.

Although I know that a lot of people want to know how a picture was created. I just have to laugh when people feel like “Digital” is cheating.

I guess watercolor is cheating when you love oil, people just have more options of and variety of things to love now.

Alex says:

I’ve never put much thought into it but now you mention it, it feels so backwards that we still use this term. Great post Chase.

Jeremy says:

I don’t really agree with the original statement – I have film cameras and digital cameras. I have acoustic guitars and electric guitars. They’re very different. To those that know, they, the guitars, are Taylors, or Telecasters or Strats. To those that don’t, they’re either acoustic or electric. I see no harm in being semantically correct.

Go to an art gallery and the caption next to a piece will read ‘oil on canvas’ or ‘pastel on brown paper’ or ‘acrylic on board’ etc. I live in London and just yesterday I went to the Tate gallery to look at Muybridge photographs and other shows. The captions were all fantastically detailed in their description of process and media used. For some it seems to matter.

I hope you have better weather than we do…

Been saying this for ages! Photography is photography!!!

My lab is GREAT!
I love love the quality.
I find it amusing the owner 30 years in business still calls a print a DIGITAL PRINT

Simon says:

I appreciate there are many different formats/disciplines/personal opinions in regards to photography and how each step of it’s evolution should be labeled BUT isn’t photography (of any description) ‘writing with light’? Regardless of what tools you employ to make your vision real, light is the common factor in the creation of that vision… I have no beef what soever if people want to identify their particular tools & methods when describing their form of photography – that’s up to them – but I also have no issue with “photography” being the common description applied to all forms of ‘writing with light’ either.

There are plenty of classifications for photography, such as “Large Format Photography” or “Stereoscopic Photography”. I don’t feel upset if you refer to it as digital photography because it’s just another method of capturing an image. Eventually it will get the digital name dropped, and on that day people will stop calling TV’s “flat screen TV’s” as well!

Esclarmonde says:

I am sorry but I do not agree with you saying ” digital and analog photography are fundamentally the same thing”. There is a huge difference between these two, they represent different kinds of taking a photograph. Someone who’s really experience in using both should know that and would never say such a thing. So I won’t stop using the terms digital and analog because they are not the same.

Wesly says:

Not going to happen.

The word “digital” sells.

no you're wrong says:

I do not agree. Digital Photography and Film Photography are not the same thing. Sure, the end result is an image captured, but no, not the same.

Michael says:

For someone who has started on film and to this day uses both mediums film & digital, stereotyping is
unnecessary in photography, it’s the end result that matters.

Ira Casel says:

Agreed, Chase. I always say I am a photographer. If someone asks whether I would shoot their project with film or digital, I answer. I think the painting analogy is on point. Nobody says they are an “oil painter” or watercolor painter,” but rahter, a painter. Then, they proceed to discuss the tools and media.

I consider digital and film photography to be one in the same regarding photography as an art. Though there are different skills that are unique to each kind of photography, isn’t the objective the same for either side? Convey an idea through a captured moment in time? Never has it crossed my mind that I was exclusively a digital photographer. Just sayin’.
Thanks Chase!

Aleeya says:

I call what I do SPECTACULAR PHOTOGRAPHY. Though many may disagree. No “film” or “digital” prefix necessary.

Becky says:

Seriously, Chase, come on. Were you bored today or just trying to tweak us film people into defending our mode?
There is a place for both, the end result is art. If you choose to capture digitally, you have a camera that makes decisions on computations, and you get to make the decisions on how you saw things later.
If you choose film, there are certain decisions you make before capture and during that affect the outcome-and other than a few things in the print process, (contrast, color cast, dodge and burn) you get what you get.
The end result is what you are after….. which is the response to what you saw that made you want to take the picture in the first place.
The need to define one from the other may come from our desire to trust that what we see is what is actually there. And in some cases, it is hard to look at an image without being hit in the face with the technology that was used to enhance it….

Chase says:

not at all. i LOVE film. I shoot a lot of film with old nikon rangefinders and hassie’s and pen’s.

this is not a digital versus film thing becky. It’s a vernacular thing.

why are there books called composing for digital photography?

why isn’t it composing photographs?

i want us all under the same roof of photography. let’s chill on the purity of film and let’s evolve the digi nerds into the same fold. when we get together online we call all segment like mad… but when were talking “photo” “graphy” as in “writing with light”, aint’ we all doing the same thing?

Becky says:

You are right-it should be about composing, not the technique.
Art is art, however you get there…

Pressed for time, are we?

Dianne says:

Photography is how I choose to create images. The camera is the tool I begin with. Whether that camera is digital or film is not important. Thank you for shedding some more light on this subject.

Steve says:

Does this mean I can drop the “damn” from Canon when talking about the focus on my Mrk III? I guess it does work since it’s a given talking about the III.

For those who want to defend the III, don’t bother…. we have plenty of IV’s that justify our feelings over the III.

Eric Calabros says:

you are damn right

Lars Frederiksen says:

I agree. Photography is photography. But a guitar isn’t just a guitar. You use an acoustic guitar for different things than an electric one. So at times you do use the ‘electric’ or ‘acoustic’ part in a phrase. But only when it matters. The same thing applies to photography in my opinion. Often it wouldn’t matter and we should all just say photography. But sometimes it’s very important. They are still different tools and have different constraints and will, to a certain degree, give different results.

DaniLew says:

It makes perfect sense to me too.

That one has been bugging me for a while too.

Michael Montalto says:

Chase, don’t look for mouse shit…look to avoid the elephant shit!

Kim says:

I actually have gone around and around with a woman about whether or not photography was truly art. She did not think it should be accepted into a local juried art show and should certainly not be eligible for any awards or even be allowed to compete against “real” art like paintings. When I dropped off my work for this year’s show (one of which ended up winning an award), of course it was she who was at check-in. She said, “Is that digital?” When I said “yes” she said, “Oh, it’s enhanced. That’s why it looks so good.” Ah… ignorance.

Tommy chatt says:

Just for the record, I’m 17 and focus on film photography.

mr Jimmy says:

if not for the computer people in back room working 16 hours a day fixing and re-shaping and adding style and back rounds to your pictures you all would be working a best buy selling big screen tv. LOL LOL LOL All fun aside I go to chase’s web page because he’s a “photographer”. And I see one man doing so much for so many. Thanks

Saad says:

good luck trying to convince dpreview.com to change their domain name ;)

Jesse says:

As photography is both an art and a collection of technical skills, I think there is some distinction to be made. Many techniques and concepts are common to both, but there are also plenty of skills/concepts which are not shared.

I have enough family and friends who are still struggling to learn and understand skill unique to digital — such as calibration, post-processing, and digital file archiving. There are classes to teach (some of the) skills unique to digital, which would not get into common photography techniques, skills and concepts. Is it not accurate to call this a “digital photography” class?

My gut reaction is that this is almost a Seinfeld-esqe proposal. Truly, there are bigger problems that we might aspire to solve.

David H. says:

But how could anyone sell books entitled something like, “Composition for Digital Photography?”

how could anyone buy these books?

Eoin says:

Chase, this seems like a silly request to me. Sure, a guitar player plays a guitar and a painter paints, but I would have thought that one of the first questions a curious person might have for these people is “What kind of guitar do you play?”, “What style of painter?”.

You yourself are a photographer, but if a possible client who knew nothing about you asked you what kind of photography you specialised in I’m sure you’d elaborate. Portrait, lifestyle, sports, documentary? Or would you say, “it’s all photography”.

I’m by no means saying that the word digital is always neccesary, but wanting it’s total removal seems counter-productive. After all, it’s another piece to the puzzle as to who you are as a photographer.
Now, I’m off to listen to my vinyls.

Mike Wood says:

I don’t see how it is a relevant distinction anymore. Unless you are a Mac vs PC purist (they are both computers, right?), film and digital are both photography. It is about time, Chase.

Paul Kelly says:

I think it already has been dropped, especially by younger people. Many teenagers have never known photography in anything other than its digital form, and will stare blankly at you if you use quaint terms such as “film” and “developing”.

Personally, I shoot digital 99% of the time, and it’s only when I shoot film that I feel the need to tell people that I’m doing something non-digital.

TonyJ says:

So long as you use your fingers to release the shutter, we are all digital photographers.

As a musician and a guitarist in particular I must disagree: an electric guitar is a different beast from an acoustic. Nutcases could also argue a hollowbody electric is a different breed from a solid body electric or that a Taylor acoustic is totally different from a Martin…and the debates can rage hotter than Canon vs. Nikon. The practitioners, however, are all “guitarists.”

We are all “photographers” as well, one using film is no more or less a photographer than one shooting digits. Though I shoot entirely digital, my brain still sees the world as Velvia and Kodachrome and I often refer to how a scene will appear on ‘film’ for lack of a better term (how this will appear on the ‘monitor’ just doesn’t have the same appeal). But making the distinction between digital and film is still valid: if nothing else it defines a different workflow even if the results may be indistinguishable to the average Joe. Likewise an ‘electric guitarist’ can play through an fx box creating an acoustic sound and the acoustic fellow can do the same to make some crunchy raunch…the average Joe wouldn’t know what type of guitar was used.

Geccko says:

Yes…but just until photography doesn’t mean only digital photography… it doesn’t matter from what kind of media is it… it’s photography!

And no… film will never die! :)

Rohan says:

May be the time will come when the term “film” photography would be used when people use the film cameras.

Tyson Murray says:

I agree. Its about time that we start to forget film, just like how we forgot about Tap in the music industry.

Tom Bricker says:

Photography from the Greek roots simply means “writing with light.” And whether you do it digitally or with film, you are still writing using light.

You can get into painting and determine whether the painting was done with acrylic paint, oil, egg tempera, watercolors, etc. and whether or not the painting is on canvass, copper, wooden panels, or some other material, but all of it is painting. Is one better than the other? Absolutely not.

So under the large umbrella, digital photography is photography just as an electric guitar and an acoustic guitar are under the same heading. I say I shoot digitally because of the level of ease to control my images rather than spending time in a dark room. The only dark room I like is when I go to bed.

However, I am a photographer, because people say to me, “I really like your photograph” rather than “I like your digital image.”

Dan says:

Well, it depends on the application. If we’re talking about overall technique, composition, f/stops and all that, there’s no point in making the digital/film distinction, due to the state of technology. And this applies for 90% of photography-talk. But most of the time, “digital photography” websites are going to contain a lot of content that is irrelevant, since I’m now a film photographer. There’s a lot of post-processing work with digital, and hardly any with film. So we need to keep the distinction, lest people just ASSUME that photography is all digital these days. Especially as I try to convince more and more people to start using film by pointing out the advantages that I like.

But neither do I think that it should be a pejorative distinction. Just as with acrylic vs. oil painting, it’s just a choice, and there are advantages to each medium. But there are still times when the differences are of key importance to photographers.

thought about this some days ago when i was in a bookstore and saw some books about “digital photography”… couldn’t agree more!

David Sanger says:

I also suggest we drop the High Def from HDTV and just call it television

The other would then become LDTV – Low Def TV

Why the marketers haven’t figured this yet is beyond me.

I still get people asking, “So do you shoot digital?” It’s almost embarrassing and I try not to make them feel bad, but hello!! I usually tell them Kodak stopped making film (or something like that).

Peronally I think the 2 are ever so slightly different, both have +ve and -ve sides:
Film cameras are cheaper for the same quality now most people have gone digital however with film you still have to pay for the film + processing or chemicals and kit to process and print yourself.
Digital is quicker to get to a client and easier for them to use in the modern world where as film has a more tradtional feel to it which is often shown in the raw image e.g. film grain and sensor noise, I don’t know what it is but I can tell the difference in a print.
Smelling of chemicals from the darkroom is great where as stinking of BO from sitting at a computer ain’t to good at all.

You said about dropping electric from guitar, again I don’t think this has really happened, otherwise you wouldn’t get acoustic sessions would you, well at least they wouldn’t be advertised as acoustic.

Each to their own, I love shooting film, I love shooting digital but I will be keeping the two seperate for the forseeable future.

Johan says:

would be nice if the camera manufacturers started off by ditching the “D” in their naming conventions. While their at it ditch the numbers too (since they don’t follow a logical sequence in these anyway) and start naming cameras creatively.

Ryan says:

I prefer to be called a digital photographer. Bobby digital photographer.

Alexandre says:

I know in french, I’m french canadian, “digital photography” mean “photography with your finger” and we should say muneric photography to refer to photography take by electronic device.

But I really don’t know in english.

I’m actually defending your view as a person for my Photo Processes class right now.
I’m going through and proving that you only need the phone that is with you to take great photos by taking photos with my iPhone and reviewing camera apps.

@Nakeva says:

Chase, I totally agree. Its superfluous and somewhat redundant. Photography is photography whether its a DSLR, film, point-and-shoot or mobile.

There is a difference, a visible difference. They are different processes. As “photography” they are two different approaches to making images. They are two different image making “tools.” Similar to the difference between oil paint and water color. They are different, it’s that simple.

Carl D says:

Hey Chase,

Why? The word “digital” is used to define part of the process .. just as the word “photography” does. Using the premise of your post why not just drop the word “photography” and say “art”? Shooting film and shooting digital photography are 2 different processes; I see no reason why those differences shouldn’t be demarcated somehow.

I’ve taught guitar for 20 years, and people use the terms “electric” regularly. It’s a different instrument to an acoustic guitar.

Another reason I think the term ‘digital’ is relevant; it involves an entire realm of ‘stuff’ and process that film does not. A good amount of time and effort in digital photography is sitting at a computer, using tools that aren’t at all photography specific – monitors, hard drives, processors, etc, etc. They are, by construct, tools of the digital world, be it photography, writing, research, whatever.

The term digital is no less relevant that the term “broadband”. :)



Oliver says:

Photography is a chemical process that creates a tangible image. It was defined as such more than a century ago.

There’s nothing tangible about a digital image, except for the device it’s stored on.

I don’t think the we should change the definition of photography for the sake of modern convenience. The beauty language is its ability to define and distinguish the differences and nuances of the world.

Oliver says:

Carl, I didn’t mean to respond directly to you. My bad.

Anonymous says:

Totally agree! I think in French it is already done though.

John Gillingham says:

I take photographs. My camera happens to be digital. If you print a picture most people (me included) can’t tell the difference

dano says:

Will this mean we can lose the clunky “D” from DSLR? Please.

mat g. says:

Can I get an AMEN from the congregation!!!!! AMEN brother….. AAAAAAAMEN!!!

Rich Park says:

definitely only necessary when specifically differentiating between film and digital – photographers and photography though will always simply be capturing images.

I agree with that Chase, but in order to do that we’re going to have to stop saying that we shoot digital camera’s. Reason why I agree is because on the real how many people do you see walking around with film cameras compared to our modern “digital” ones. With all of that said it’s just photograph and full stop! :)

Miami, Florida | Nassau, Bahamas

Tommy chatt says:

Digital and analoge photography are definatley not the same, digital cameras have just made everyone into a photographer, analoge photography also involves the development of your negatives and printing your images. Whereas digital has editing.

Film photography should be a sub-group if so, not joined with digital.

Laurent Egli says:

Well I guess as long as there is issues about retouching photographs (thanks to reuteurs) I guess some people will want to make a difference. In my case if DIGITAL means i’m using my digit to press the shutter release I’m ok with that ;-)

Cheers Chase from Switzerland

pinz says:

….. hmmm. nope, don’t agree … I’m a pinholer (for nearly a decade), and even though it’s ‘photography’, it’s the near antithesis of ‘digitial photography’ as it is practised today. It can easily take several hours from inception to completion to get just one pinhole ‘imaget’, whereas a digi-photog could shoot off several thousand images in the same time frame, upload to computer, computa-fritz, print and be selling the next day in multiple sizes, with infinitie print options on any surface …. The digi-technology allows the photog to do that.

In contrast, I first, build my own cameras, do all my own darkroom work. I work with one light-sensitive paper neg, pull one pos print, or two, or three, max, with each print having a slight variance because I do it ‘intuitively’, not ‘by the clock’. It’s an entirely different process.

I’d no more call what I do with pinhole phtoography – ‘digital’ – anymore then I would call it ‘film’ photography. It’s a stand-alone discipline that demands a completely different mind and skill set.

I’m going to further push this ‘devil’s advocate’ role ..Overall, I think much that passes for ‘artful’ photography today is the result of digi-computa-manipulations, meaning, it’s not YOU that’s really doing the WORK. Someone else wrote and perfected the software that you very much rely on and use without thinking.. All you are doing is pushing a button and making a ‘insta-choice’ that someone else has already ‘anticipated’. That’s not ‘photography’ by any stretch, digi or film.

So, nope, I like to know and hear the distinctions. It tells me a great deal about the kind of photography and the kind of photographer who is ‘producing’ images …

david says:

thank you for your sanity.

Marshall says:

Pinz, I’m not sure it’s fair to paint all “digi-computa-manipulations” with the same brush. The fact the some (many, even) learning photographers do sometimes-uncreatively apply filters doesn’t automatically mean that digital tools are nothing more than choices “someone else has already ‘anticipated'”. That’s unfair to people who are trying to do creative work using the tools that they choose.

You really lose me when you say “That’s not ‘photography’ by any stretch, digi or film.” I respect your dedication to your craft, and I agree that mindless use of any tool usually produces lesser work, but *photography* is a big art form, with room for many approaches. When you declare that work to be “not photography”, you limit photography, and I hope we can all celebrate the breadth and depth of what is possible in photography.

Davd B. says:

couldn’t agree more…

Brian Carey says:

Geez if ‘m commenting on the rabble I mustn’t have anything else to do! :-(

Jeff says:

hahaha I agree, now talk to you connections at the big companies to have the stop using it in their media that is teaching the public to use the term “digital photography” :) Love your points of view.

We mingle in different circles, the digital prefix hasn’t been in my vernacular for a very long time now. In fact, I’d say it’s more common to specify “film photography” these days, since it’s the minority. (*No* disrespect intended to those who shoot film!)

For the most part, photography is photography is photography.

Michal Fanta says:

Amen, Chase!

Btw. When the 35mm film has been discovered, did people say 35mm photography?

Des Brambley says:

Yep. 35mm was spoken about like that, as was medium format, and large format. It’s another format, it needs defining.

As a member of what I would call the “last class” of photographers taught in a darkroom as opposed to and editing suite, I would have to whole-heartedly agree that for those of us who understand the fundamentals and foundations of photography, the digital side of the business is just the natural progression of the science that is “light-imaging.”

Regardless of whether you’re shooting with a CCD/CMOS Sensor or Light-Sensitive Silver Molecules adheared to Plastic Strips, you should be choosing the right tool for the job. Its all the same in the end: a result of knowledge and work.

Jim McNally says:

While we are at let’s stop calling it analog. It’s not analog, it is called film!

susan patrick harris says:

I shoot medium format film as well as 35mm ff digi. And semantics aside, you must acknowledge process of production for each media is unique from the other.
I have no desire or need to eliminate film.

Traian says:

Simple post which has profound meanings. Just need to change mentality ;)

Jason Ward says:

I’m still amazed every time someone asks me if I’m shooting digitally. I want to answer “Of course I am”, but I try to be nice. And even if I’m not shooting digitally, just about every photo will end up as pixels or on paper anyway, so the original source really isn’t as critical as it used to be.

Well, I think the digital set has used this as a sales term for so long it will be difficult to drop. I’ve never quite understood this but many of the proponents of digital have been simultaneously trying to further the digital world(makes sense) while condemning anything having to do with analog photography. I worked for Eastman Kodak when the first real digi cams landed, think DCS 520. Almost immediately the war cries began about “Death to Analog,” all the while the first actions were being built, in camera actions, which were designed to…wait for it….mimic film. What?
I see this trend continuing today, still don’t understand it, but there are many things about photography I still don’t get. Not a week ago I read an article about a new cinema camera that was “finally going to kill film.”
I hate to say it but I think the geeks will hold to the “Digital Photography” moniker for a while yet.
Yesterday while picking up a few prints I heard a camera center employee as he worked with a customer. “Why is that camera only $125, what is wrong with it?” the customer asked. “What’s wrong with it?” the counter guy asked.”It’s a film camera.”
Until this mentality goes away…not sure “Digital Photography” is going away.

Jonathan says:

I agree, but… it may be too soon. I’ve run into a lot of folks (mostly older) who used to shoot film and then stopped for years. Now they’re picking up new digital gear, but they’re not tech-savvy, so it’s like a whole new ballgame. Specifying that something is digital is probably still useful for people like that, even if the term is on its way out for the rest of us. I think that’s something we’re seeing in all sectors and industries – digital was used as a marketing buzzword, but now it’s dated and will become even more dated as analog technology completely disappears from the consumer market.

scott andrew says:

Chase, much respect to you buddy but I beg to differ with you on this. I’m a hybrid photographer who prefers to photograph with the medium of film. You can argue dynamics, capture, resolution, aesthetic until we’re blue in the face but suffice it to be said, traditional analog photography and digital photography are two different creatures.
I, for one, don’t want to see a battle of semantics over how we deem our mode of photography but I think there is good reason to still use the term “digital photography” when referring to images captured digitally. In its purest sense a digital image is exactly that, a digital image. A photograph is something that is tangible, light exposed on emulsion, transferred to a print (either via scan or optical printmaking). If anything, for the sake of purity in photography, let’s keep the distinction between digital imaging and analog photography. There is a difference.

Oliver says:

Agree 100%. I could not sum it up any better than you. If I had my way, that’s how we’d refer to the two camps.

The problem is if you’re a maker of digital images (with a digital camera) and formally refer to yourself as a digital imager, you’ll sound like a dweeb. “Chase Jarvis: Digital Imager” just does not have the same credibility. (I know Chase shoots film sometimes as well, but I’m just making a point). Therefore for the sake of convenience and common understanding, they’re digital photographers to some, and just photographers to others.

Besides the technical aspects, I think there’s another reason to justify between the two terms. Film shooting is fundamentally a different process than digital when it comes to the WAY the same person would shoot with a digital camera vs film. Nobody can deny that. The mental process (consciously and subconsciously), changes based on format. I don’t know of any person who owns a digital and film camera and shoots them in the EXACT manner. They’re different animals, and some form of distinction is fine with me.

Viva photography…and digital imaging.

satrain18 says:

“Viva photography…and digital imaging.”

Wow.. as if digital photography doesn’t exist…

Kelly says:

“I’m a hybrid photographer ”

No, you are a photographer.

Jochen Abitz says:

At the moment i switched to film and i love it. I often found myself tweaking my digital shots to film look.
So why should i shoot digital?

It is the same thing for sure, but for my heart there is a difference..
And for me it is not in the same pot. I (see) feel a difference.

I agree!
Photography is an art. Lets not pigeonhole it into film photography and digital photograph. It’s just Photography! Grrrrrr!!!

Darryl Gregory says:

I agree Chase,
We need to see if Canon can drop a zero off the price of some of their lenses also, Maybe you can get that started for the rest of us?


Paul Stanley says:

Yeah seriously, when it comes down to it, its all photography. Yes, physically one is a little different from the other, but in the end they are both ways of taking photos and you still get a photo no matter what!

visitor says:

CD’s were digital

Nate Watters says:

Tough call – I think what I’m about to say is backwards from what you are saying, but here goes:

when I go to a concert and am trying to describe it afterward to someone, I feel like I really have to emphasize when a performer used an acoustic guitar as opposed to electric – because it’s kind of special, brings a different vibe to the show, and deserves to be recognized.

The same goes for film/digital. It seems that when people are looking at a collection of my photos, they always ask “was this shot on film?” or “do you still use film?”

I suppose it shouldn’t matter, but these days, I’m a little proud to let someone know I shot something on film. I think we’re still at a point where it’s known that making an image on film requires a slightly different set of skills and knowledge of camera functions, etc. than making a digital image.

That’s a topic that could be discussed forever, I suppose.

I never tell someone I’m a digital photographer, I’ll just say “photographer”. But when something is done using a non-traditional medium or at least one that is not in line with current trends, such as film photography or oil painting, or playing an acoustic guitar, or pressing a vinyl record as opposed to a digital EP, I think it should be recognized as something that took a little more effort and craft. Or is that just a pride thing – where people like to be recognized for their efforts?

Sorry, that’s kind of a rambling response…

bryce says:

It makes sense – and I agree. I don’t feel that digital has been able to fully match analog for photography yet. Silver gelatine and chromogenic prints still look better than pigment prints. Film still retains more information than digital – in terms of highlights and shadows.

Narelle says:

Totally agree! its the acknowledgement of the medium

Couldn’t agree more.

Photography is photography, just like music is music. But within music, you have rock-music, within rock-music you have; alternative, punk, new-wave, gothic, metal, indie etc etc.

I feel that the distinction is sometimes needed, just like if you want to communicate what type of photography you’re into. In my opinion there are differences between the various photography mediums, and a little distinction is sometimes welcome to communicate what type of person you are.

Jean Albus says:

I will if you will. It’s even in the title of one of your related posts. :)

Tony Obfenda says:

I am going to remove digital off of my business cards. once I start making them!
Thanks Chase!!

“Chase Jarivis inspires me to take pictures.”

Roger says:

Completely agree.

I agree with this.

The term ‘digital photography’, while accurate, seems to be more of a slur these days than a term of respect on par with film. As if the use of digital were somehow inherently inferior to the use of film.

They are both just tools. The art comes from the artist behind the lens.

rabbitinpumpkin says:

I’m with you on this one. I’ve got a coworker who thinks a photographer has to suffer and use film. I think art can be made out of crayons.

Jaron Loban says:

Thank you! I’m glad someone of your influence has finally come out and said this. It’s been bothering me for years. What really matters is the final result, the photograph. I think we still hear the term digital because there are still many people who feel that film is somehow “superior” or “pure”. It’s sad that people subscribe to technological bigotry, but I hear it time and time again. Also, many are drawn into photography because of the ease of digital, and they don’t realize that they are doing the same things they would need to do with a film camera to create an effective image. Post is different, but post is post and shooting is shooting. A camera is a camera is a camera.

bryce says:

post is not post – with “analog” you have to consider your film and filters before you shoot b/c it will affect aesthetics of your final image. With digital you don’t need any sort of intention ( or at least as much) – you can just stumble upon the aesthetic.

I can’t say this in absolutes – but generally speaking this is the case (for un-considering photographers)

I agree. Even though I wear an analog watch I don’t call it analog watch. Although I may start….

Kajphotos says:

Your so right chase !! I never thought of it like that ! It should just be called
Photography plain and simple ..

Rufat Abas says:

Didn’t ever thought about it but it is damn true. Fully agree!

Scott Webb says:

Chase, there is a lot of nonsense terms I’d love to see dropped. I blame Search Engine Optimiation – a simple quick check on the Google Keyword took says that “digital photography” has 368K Global Monthly Searches.

I haven’t thought to use the term “digital” in a long long time.

Billy Ripken says:

Yes, that will be fine Chase.

visitor says:


Dylan Haley says:

This is funny, and reminds me of a few people, but I hope you are not suggesting its Chase. He was always sharing weather it benefited him or not, and his sincerity comes across very clearly.

That was a waste of time. Sounds like whoever made it is an armchair photographer who complains about other people’s success.

I thought the vid was funny. Then, again I thought that goofy unicorn from candy mountain was hillarious. But, ya know? This vid makes a point. We idolize, worhip, and hang on every word of the rock star blogging, twittering, and facebooking photographers. And, so do I. So, what’s up? How does that go? You are what you eat! Well, as long as we are eating up positive stuff, then maybe we human minions will make it afterall.

BenjaminR says:

I agree, Mr. Jarvis.

Chase! I agree, buddy. I shoot a large portion of my personal work with film. Film suits my style when I’m taking my time. For paid work, I shoot digital out of convenience. I’ve never referred to myself as a “digital photographer” or a “film photographer” so I agree with you.

It’s time to drop the “digital.”

As somebody who started on digital and recently started shooting film, I couldn’t agree more!

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