|Time magazine White House photographer Diana Walker answers your questions about her unique career and experiences documenting the public and private aspects of the presidency.|
John Carlisi from Cobb, California asks:
Dear Ms. Walker,
I am a serious amateur photographer. What equipment have you found most rewarding in your work (camera, format, and film)? What do you think of the digital photography and editing software (like Photoshop)? How do you envision the future of photography and photojournalism in the digital age?
Diana Walker responds:
If I were more practiced in the use of digital cameras, my answer to your question might be different. Since I have been working on my book over the last year and a half, I have not taken the time to learn digital!
But I have my marching orders of 2003. I will always use film and when necessary, digital. I do not think it is a question of one system or the other: use whatever suits whenever it suits.
I imagine there will ALWAYS be film, as many photographers favor it. But for news gathering, digital is miraculous. I have always shot mostly 35mm, which is the most versatile and useful in the news business. Single-lens reflex cameras are a must, and I happen to use Canons. The EOS-1 is most satisfactory. This has auto-focus, which is great, as it can focus faster than I can!
For more formal cover sittings, as in portrait work, I use the larger format camera, in my case a Haselblad. For the behind-the-scenes pictures I did with the presidents, my aim was to be as invisible as possible, and to use the fastest possible film in order to avoid strobe. The answer to this is the range-finder Leica with black and white film, and I prefer the M-6, because it has a built-in light meter.
Having to work so quickly, I often had to rely on the meter in the camera rather than a hand held meter which is usually more accurate. The Leica of course is extremely quiet, and the glass can't be beat. I certainly would not use a Leica running with the pack of photojournalists, since I must have long lenses, compatible cameras to interchange the lenses, etc. but for close-in fly-on-the-wall work, Leicas work the best for me.
Shooting slides as I do mostly, I use a variety of Kodak and Fuji films: Fujichrome 100, Velvia 50 (though rarely), Fujichrome 64T (pushed one in television light); various color negative films when necessary. In black and white films I use Tri-X 400, and T-Max 3200.
I don't want to address the new digital equipment, as others are so much more knowledgeable. But Photoshop gets high marks, and digital cameras improve daily! Digital is really thrilling, but there will always also be film.
I hope this answer helps.