Ok, this totally stinks.
I do photography in some semblance or another for a living. Teaching, creating, making, thinking. It’s up there right after “Eat, Sleep, Breathe.”
So, when I start investigating my known locales for the best of the best black and white, yummy silver gelatin paper to work on the next stage of my long term project, it is beyond crushing to discover that in the course of one year, my options have been shrunk, yet again. It was bad enough with Agfa disappeared. Now Kentmere seems to be dwindling in their offerings, as well as Efke. Ilford is not my fav, and is crazy expensive these days. Now granted, I am looking for REALLY large paper, but seriously folks, do you know anyone who can afford to spend $700 on photo paper?!?! Certainly not me.
I get that this is a business. That people have to be able to turn a profit to keep a company running. It just makes my heart hurt a little when long time folks in the biz drop out because they’ve shifted their “priorities” to digital (ahem, I’m thinking of you Kodak). Again, no knock on digital. But does it seriously have to be such a racket???
Here’s what I see, mostly while teaching. People can now afford nice digital cameras. But the way that information is presented, or sold to you, you will always be lured and seduced to spend more, upgrade, enhance, get new software, get new firmware, buy a bigger camera with a full sized sensor, get a new lens, get that fancy new printer, buy more ink for the printer, etc etc etc. You don’t have to do any of that, but can you imagine the way that the bottom line guys would salivate over their profit margins in this world?! There will always be something new as technology advances, so someone, somewhere will always upgrade and spend more money.
It just doesn’t work that way with film, at least not in my mind. I have old cameras, that I love because I know intrinsically how they work. I buy chemicals for the darkroom. I buy paper and film. Fundamentally, these things won’t change. There may be variations between brands that I would experiment with, but the technique, the process is set. Technological innovation will not change how I work in the darkroom. Which means less money to the big guys. Which means fewer options for me, the little guy.
As my mom would say, “Life is not fair.” True, but I still feel like complaining today, and I’ll say it just to get it out of my system. This sucks, and it’s SO not fair.