That is the question I thought I had answered ten years ago when I first discovered digital photography. Living in Rapid City, SD I was old school, believing that digital photography could never replace film. Fast forward six months and I purchased my first digital camera. I can't even remember the brand but I do remember it was pistol shaped and also shot video. Bad video. I was hooked, instant gratification, did not have to pay for developing or film. This was the best invention ever! Upon returning to Texas in late 2003 I set my sites on a better camera. In January 2004 I purchased my first "real" digital camera, a Fujifilm S5000, a real competitor to my film SLR's! Full manual control! Long zoom capability! Never have to print a photo again! A couple of years later something happened, I shot a photo of a flower that was blooming in my Dad's flower garden. I loved my shot as much as he loved his flowers so I had a print made, framed it, and gave it to him as a Christmas gift. He loved it so much he displayed it prominently in his living room for all to see. He taught me the power of a print, however I still didn't give prints much thought as the digital world still beckoned to be the future.
My mother-in-law is about as tech challenged as a person can be. Over the years she kept pestering me to print my photos. She just wanted something "I can hold in my hands". I was trying so hard to give her what she wanted but in a new and modern way. First I tried loading photos on her pc but she couldn't find them (she doesn't understand Windows Explorer). Next I gave her a digital photo frame that I would load with new photos each time I visited her. Not sure what exactly happened but something was spilled on it and it quit working. Then I gave her a photo book for Christmas but as small as it was (8"x8") she didn't really like carrying it around. Simple 4x6 prints is all she asked for, it is what gives her the most joy. To be able to carry them in her purse and share with the people she comes across in her daily life.
As the years passed, my equipment and skills have improved vastly. I now shoot with a Nikon D5100 and am learning the finer art of Long Exposure Fine Art photography. I have reflected on these two people and how ink on paper, not 1's and 0's brought joy to their lives. I have learned from them that the pressing of the button is not the end, rather it is the beginning. We has humans have been putting art on our walls for thousands of years, be it cave drawings, Picasso's, or modern prints from a digital camera. A digital photo viewed on a screen cannot enhance a room the way a framed print can. We as humans want to involve as many of our senses as possible, this is what allows the photo to have real impact. A frame adds depth, the feel of paper between our fingers reminds us this is something real. Yes, to print is the answer.
I had been planning to write this for a while but this article in the NY Times inspired me to wait no longer.
November 2, 2012
Today, we have come together to pay our respects and say goodbye to my Dad, William Clave Uriah Titsworth. Only after his passing have I truly realized what was most important to Dad. Family, his family, being close to us, something from the stories he told that he truly did not have with his parents. See, Dad didn’t have his parents long into his life, his parents having divorced when he was around six years old. His father later died when Dad was 21 and his Mother about a decade later.
Dad was quick to let you know if he disagreed with your choices but he was
always there to help you do the best you could once you had made your choice. He never stopped trying to teach you and help you learn to do better. Some years back I read a quote in a book, "you do what you know and when you know better, you do better". This is what Dad was always trying to do, help you do better at whatever task you were undertaking. When I was 14 I bought a stereo. Dad told me not to open it until he got home. Well, I opened it, I mean there wasn't anything to set up, you just plugged it in. He was disappointed when he got home from work, however years later I realized it was not because I went against his rule, but rather he wanted to share the experience with me, the kind of thing he never got to do with his Dad. Later, being short on money he had rebuilt an old Ford pickup and when I was 15 I wrecked it into a fence post. Yes, like a lot of fathers, he was angry but together we replaced the bent fender and bumper and it became my transportation for the next few years. When his granddaughter and the young men that were in her life at any given moment were making destructive choices, there was Dad doing his best to teach them how to do better, how to be responsible. My sister and I, whenever we needed a place to live because of some choice we made that didn't turn out as we had hoped, there he was with an open door and a strong opinion, but that opinion was his way of trying to get us to learn, to do, better.
About a month before Dad passed away he insisted on buying Mom this small electric chainsaw so she could trim the trees once he had left us. Now, I am confident to say Mom will not be trimming any trees, that will be my job but his love for her shone through in many different ways. There are many, many more such examples of how he was always thinking of others but I think you get the idea.
My last conversation with Dad was about having me get this old Dodge truck he had been working on for 3 years finally street ready so his granddaughter could have transportation to & from work. Even at the very end, Dad was never about what he wanted for himself but what he could do for others. Because I had him for nearly 48 years I will always know his answer to my question, his words forever a part of me. Dad may have not been as successful in life as others in many ways but when it came to loving his family his success has no equal. He will be missed but we must go on, it is what he wanted and as we go on, he goes with us.