Keira Knightley, British actress who's done precisely three movies that I can currently recall and all are part of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, was recently interviewed for Interview Magazine about a plethora of things but one quote has been picked out as interesting to photographers:

I’ve noticed that the people who started on film still have the ability to see the person in front of them. Whereas for a lot of photographers who have only ever worked in digital, the relationship between the photographer and the person who they’re taking a picture of sort of doesn’t exist anymore. They’re looking at a computer screen as opposed to the person.
— Keira Knightley

Now of course this comes from someone who has undoubtedly been photographed more than I and I'd be willing to bet that more photographs have been made of her than I've made total since i've picked up a camera, so I'm inclined to take her word on it. Regardless there is merit to what she says which we can see by considering how the famous fashion photographer Richard Avedon worked with an 8x10 camera and would often stand to the side of the camera when taking a photo whilst interacting with the subject to provoke emotion or to give direction. This interaction is not as easily done when the photographer and subject are separated by a large camera and glass pressed to the photographers face as they usually are when using a digital camera. This is also exemplified by the immediacy digital provides versus film in that photos are ready to review right away. The focus is constantly shifted off of the subject to the camera or computer screen to check the image to ensure the shot was adequately taken therefore disrupting the subject, photographer relation.

But I do believe the source of this discrepancy between photographer and subject doesn't lie in the tools that were learned on or currently used but rather the photographer themself. This ability to interact with the subject and create a relationship is, to me, one of the most difficult aspects of being a photographer and it is a talent that separates the good from the great. But the development of this talent isn't one that relates to the tools the photographer has used or is using. Sure, it would be difficult to name a great photographer, particularly in portrait photography, that didn't start with film but again that is more evident to the relatively short time that digital has been accepted as a professional medium rather than learned ability. There are certainly interesting discussions around film vs. digital but ultimately each are just tools in capturing a moment and it's only the photographer's talent and ability that truly creates a photograph.

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