16 January 2010

On the demise of another craft

I feel for this story. I have groped and fumbled round darkrooms, and loaded developing tanks under bedclothes and backed off from developing colour film doubting whether I could maintain the required temperature tolerances. I was never much good at it, so I really respect the skills of the masters (and mistresses) of the craft.

So let's celebrate the skill, and even mourn its passing, but its time is past, and PhotoShop and its competitors have the field. Get over it and move on!

But there is one difference, and it matters from a training point of view.

A year or so ago I asked Antonio (real first name) after a session I observed on his photography course, why the course still included "old-fashioned" analogue techniques (using film, and developing and printing it). Because, he told me, of their irreversibility. If you can "undo" and start again, and again, and again, there is little incentive to learn (as opposed just to try again).

So: to what extent does the cost of failure contribute to skill learning?

And--cost to whom? Sponsor, "provider", student...? what difference does that make?


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