B&W, perhaps the fastest growing serious photography magazine (at least among those that don?t showcase equipment and supermodels), has declared that it will not feature "digital photography." (No precise definition was given, but the objection covers at least those photographs that were _output_ digitally.)
In an editorial titled, "In Consideration of Constancy" in the April 2002 issue, B&W publisher/editor/founder Henry Rasmussen writes, "I?m a traditionalist, in awe of old-fashioned craftsmanship, and moved by history. For me, this has always been the lure of black and white--its connection to the past.
"The practical ramification for this magazine is that, having now made our position clear and public, we will not widen our editorial scope to include Digital photography. This is not a judgment reflecting on the worth of practitioners of the new ways, but a practical necessity--it?s impossible to please both sides in the same forum.
Rasmussen continues: "However, I will not be shy about expressing an opinion that keeps me in the Conventional fold: In that age-old conflict between change and constancy, Digital represents an element of modern technology while Conventional represents craftsmanship.
"This difference does not produce a watershed when it comes to creativity. It does, however, present a contrast when it comes to the method of reproduction: Digital utilizes a machine, much like a printing press, that places the output on a par with an etching, a lithograph, a poster--works of art that do not qualify as one-off. Regardless, we may from time to time reevaluate our policy, and will keep readers informed of developments in the Digital arena.
"I realize," Rasmussen concludes, "that the subject can be discussed endlessly without converts being won by either side. But I do hope that practitioners of Digital photography will not see our concentration on Conventional photography as a negative comment on their priorities, their integrity, or their creativity--only as a decision in consideration of constancy." (copyright HR/B&W 2002)
Again, I have no idea how Rasmussen feels about using digital at an earlier stage of the process than the printing: for example, a photo that was shot on 4x5 film, scanned and digitally printed as a 16x20 negative, and then printed as a silver contact print.
It?s easy to dismiss Rasmussen as a minority voice of the elite traditional-print collector crowd, of which many photographers are not a part. On the other hand, B&W?s circulation figures indicate that the magazine is reaching a far wider audience than mere collectors (when young photographers ask me what book to buy to aid in learning to see, I suggest they "Buy as many back issues of B&W as you can and just pore over them.") Every time someone in an online forum asks about magazines that go beyond the gadget/celeb variety, B&W is up there near the top among recommendations. So B&W is not without influence in the wider photographic community.
Thoughts? Reflective (as opposed to reflexive) responses especially appreciated.