Enterprise Story

Film and Digital photographers’ Life

By Maiko Ando

While technology develops, digital cameras make photography more accessible to everyone. On the other hand, professional photographers encounter the issue of losing their jobs due to the rise of digital. Eugene’s photographers are not an exception.

If you Google “Eugene photographer”, more than 140 names and studios will appear. However, not all of them make their livings by running their

Mo Bowen's gallery-the voyeur

photography studios. Don May, one of professional photographers in Eugene, also teaches photography at Craft Center of University of Oregon. In addition, he works at Dot Dotson’s as a part-time. That is to say, he has three jobs but doesn’t own his studio. Jonathan Smith is another photographer, who works at Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art as a preparatory and graphic designer, doesn’t have his studio either.

Digital cameras have become more and more popular. Graduation ceremonies are becoming more casual because of the technology. Families or even schools tend not to request professionals to take photos. People only ask their relatives and friends to do that instead. So photographers are afraid that the job offers are going to dry up. Around 2000 to 2001, Smith’s co-worker was making his living by using film camera only. Though, few years later, he was forced to close his business because of the high cost of equipment and materials of the traditional photography. This is not the only case. According to Smith, Eugene used to have more photographers than now.

“However,” May says, “We have some advantages.” Photographers in Eugene are older and have rich experience. They are superior in both photography skills and senses of decision-making. For instance, during one of the wedding ceremony May worked for, the couple had a fight and looked angry on their faces while their friends and relatives taking pictures. When the photos taken by the guests turned out, both of couple’s faces were not naturally happy. “But when my photos turned out,” May smiles, “they were surprised and asked me, ‘when did this happened?’—the bride and broom showed their happy faces on those shots.” He caught a quick moment of them looking at each other. This is what a professional photographer can do.

Each of the photographers’ websites has sample works of wedding, portraits, children, and families. Categories they provide are unique and deeply connected to Eugene because residents here tend to place a great deal of importance on personal relationships. Based on that, wedding ceremonies are one of the photographers’ biggest opportunities to make a good profit. Wedding couples desire to hold the ceremony in their hometowns so they look for photographers in the same place as well. Even though it is on a downward trend to ask photo shoot by professionals in many situations, wedding is different. People know that a professional photographer has the right equipment and skills for their weddings. “Photographers can make more than 3,000 dollar in average of each ceremony,” Smith says. In fact, three out of four professional photographers do wedding services on their regular basis.

May explains that there are three fundamental elements—artists, business and adventure—that make up a surviving pyramid for photographers in small cities like Eugene. Artist means photographers. “You need to know how to do business too,” May says. Also, the most important element is adventurer. “We can’t remain committed to outdated practices,” he says. Smith absolutely agrees with May at this point. “Sometimes it’s important to go out of Eugene and see other opportunity.” They will take the chance of adventure whenever and wherever. They think of exploring new place as part of their job.

Mo Bowen

On the other hand, Mo Bowen, who has been in Eugene for 5 years, only uses her old film cameras. “The issue of new technology happened when point-and-shoot film camera came out too,” Bowen says. Back to 1970’s, when point-and-shoot became popular, photographers worried that they were going to lose their jobs because it made photography easy for everyone. “But nothing big had changed,” Bowen says, “Everybody said ‘I can do that, then why do I need to ask for the photographers and pay a lot of money.’ but as a result, people found that they can’t do the same as photographers do.” This time will be the same. Photographers are at the center of the problem that digital camera has just been popularized. She also says, “The interesting thing is that people begin to refer film photographer to ‘non-digital photographer’ even they are all ‘photographers.’” She decides to shoot with only films because “Film has more soul.”

Bowen says, “Film is more organic, literally it is.” Recently, people have once again come to appreciate film photographs because digital photos can be bread and butter work.” Also, film photos are becoming vintage so they get a premium over. Film enthusiasts believe film works have more professional hand.” At the same time, DIVA, a local gallery in downtown, is holding film photography exhibitions currently. Recognition of film photography has been changing little by little.

Eugene photographers have a solid philosophy. May says, “If there’s something I doesn’t know about photo, I feel anxious.”  But at the same time, he thinks anxiety will guide you to get into the world that you have not known. In other words, it is often said that tough times may also bring opportunities. Paul Neevel agrees. For a few years ago, it was a challenge for him to learn digital photography, but “that’s just fun, really.”  Photographers are consistently full of adventurous spirits.

Eugene Photographers used to have a monthly meeting. Each time, it was held at a photographer’s studio so all others could visit and see the layout of the studio. In the meeting, they brought more than 25 images to share. This meeting was not for competition, but to appraise their abilities. Photographers have their own way to shoot and skills that they found by themselves. Some artists hate to share their skills and senses because they are afraid of stealing. “But that doesn’t happen in Eugene, everybody just be honest,” May smiles.

Since monthly meeting ended, another movement is under going currently. Eugene Grid Project is a group photography effort organized in March 2008 to systematically photograph the metro Eugene/Springfield region neighborhood by neighborhood. Bowen is asked to be involved in this project and plans to hold meetings at her studio. So she can organize and provide other photographers with the sources she has. Moreover, she is going to build a darkroom next to her gallery. It will be open to every photographer in Eugene. She thinks Eugene is a good place to establish relationships with local artists.

Eugene is not a big city, obviously. There are no high demands of fashion and celebrity photos. There is no big competition in the photography market. However, the local photographers in Eugene know how to make their livings. “Be honest and do exactly what you say you’re going to do.” May says. The tip for surviving as a photographer in Eugene is to be honest. “I will be a Dutch Uncle for a bit,” he says and talks about how to shake hands with people. “Cold hand shaking will not make people believe,” he says.

Debate over film and digital photography continues. However, as Neevel says, “If you think about business, you should know how digital camera works too because that’s your job as a photographer.” Digital technique is necessary. Although in the situation, film photographers, such as Bowen, make strenuous efforts and receive recognition.




What photographers like about film and digital?


Mo Bowen says, “If you take a photo with film camera, it’s more easy to make a mistake, such as blank one and white out. But those are also one of the works. That is part of art, which digital can’t have because they can delete what you don’t like, with only one click.”

Jonathan Smith says, “since I have lots of old cameras such as Polaroid, large-format, medium-format, and cameras from 70’s and 80’s, I know more about how to use those cameras. ” Also, he likes how it turns out when you print them. He thinks distal is seems to be too flat.


Paul Neevel thinks it’s benefit that unnecessary to spend cost for films. “You can shoot, as many times you want. So, you’ll have the great shot. Also, even you make a mistake, you can delete with one click.” He added, “It’s such a freedom after having paid for film so many years.”

Mo Bowen says, “It’s good for mass. People can take photo easily.”

Don May thinks digital cameras have more chance to take beautiful photos. “However, at the same time, it’s necessary to know all technical setting with your camera. You can’t get lost with your camera at the important moment. ”

Step-by-step guide

How to develop digital photo and film photo?

<Digital print>

Direct digital print:

1. Take the data from memory card and put into a file.

2. Send the photos in file to laser printer.

Inkjet print:

1. Take the data from memory card.

2. Use Photoshop to edit sizes and color correction.

3. Then make then to print with laser printer.

Giclée is also another name of the process of making fine art prints from a digital source using ink-jet printing.

<Film print>

Film print has little different process.

1. Put the film roll into the machine and the machine depends on what its film type is. C-41 a process for developing color negatives film, and black and white goes to E-6.

2. After machine developed the negatives, put them into the laser printer as well as digital prints do.

Both digital and film could also be printed to CDs. Also, you can order for print only the ones you want to print if it’s digital.

Information by Glenn Cooperrider from Dot Dotson’s.

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