To be honest, I haven’t been paying that much attention to the “wild card,” or bonus, items on this diet. It’s taken so much energy (pardon the pun) to reduce my carbon footprint in the ways I always thought were simple. The ideas that I’ve already blogged about, like the elimination of plastic bags from my grocery trips and bottled water, I’ve been able to stick with so far. Earlier in the challenge I was able to salvage my rain coat and re-waterproof it, and I included that in my points for the wild card section. I’ve swapped out my harsh chemical products for the more pure and eco-friendly choices. However, I’ve incorporated those things into my past posts, so I would like to take the time this week to my own wild card project that I’ve created.
I’ve always wondered about the effect that my hobby, education, and (overwhelmingly corny) passion has on the environment. In my own photographic practice, like many other students in my program, I still use a darkroom and wet-style lab to process and print my photographs. We use huge amounts of harsh chemicals with acetic acid in them, as well as copious and excessive amounts of water. As far as the chemicals go, most of them you can re-use until their potency expires and you are forced to dispose of them. Noticing how my skin takes a beating from using these chemicals, I am not really sure that they have a great effect on the environment either.
As far as my brief period of research goes, these chemicals have pretty low toxicity levels in them and our ability to re-use them seems to make things look a little brighter than I thought. Throwing all this digital photography into the game turns things around. I mean, when you combine digital cameras with the Internet and online sharing sites, you would think that we print less, therefore reducing our impact on the environment. This made me really think, so I looked at a few blogs and articles and came to a rather inconclusive conclusion that may be biased because I prefer analog over digital, but that’s another story.
Electronics have a huge and obvious impact on the environment. There is constantly a new and better something coming out all the time. As soon as something new comes out, the old, older and oldest usually become obsolete when it comes to these things. What analog photography has over digital in terms of environmental standards is its minimalistic approach and stability. We can buy used cameras on a more frequent basis than digital because they are not obsolete.
I’m going to get a little controversial here by saying this, but I might as well say what I want to say. Analog photographers have a conservative approach to image making. Film costs loads. This, of course, is not true in all cases, but analog photography allows for a more conscious and conservative process of image making. The larger the format, the less film one is prone to use. After all, it would be an ecological disaster if analog photographers created as many images as are made with digital cameras.
I probably poked a nerve with somebody out there. My unscientific conclusion that I’ve reached is that analog photography may have been even in terms of ecological impact a few years back, but it’s pushing ahead now with its proved stability and sustainability as a medium. The cameras aren’t changing too much, and their electronic components are few and far between. Their re-usability surpasses digital by a mile. I won’t get into film and packaging of that film but it’s exactly the same as when our ecological footprint wasn’t in as much jeopardy as it is now… well, you get the point.
In celebration of my findings of one more rewarding reason to work with film, I’ve decided to create my own wild card “term-project” for the energy challenge. If there is one long-term gift that entering this challenge has given me, it’s the awareness that I’ve gained. I notice advertisements, different kinds of garbage cans, and other eco-conservative things outside the grocery store and on the city streets. I’ve started to photograph these different findings to compile more or less a visual map of what a cities ecological intervention looks like.
These are my first two photographs – click to enlarge them. You can follow me as I upload them here on Flickr.
Keep it cool!