Welcome To 2006: A Look Ahead

While we did feature some crystal ball gazing in our December issue, I thought I'd use this space to discuss some of the matters we'll be exploring and some of the trends we'll be watching as we move into 2006. In the last year we've done our best to keep you up-to-date on the issues and changes that have taken place in photography, and there's no doubt that 2005 was the year when digital went mainstream, with a vengeance. Sure, you can look at sales stats and see the decline in film products and upsurge in digital cameras, but the changes become clear when you gather more than 10 photographers in a room. A year or two ago a poll of who shot film and who shot digital (only) would yield a 50/50 split. Now, if one or two photographers admit to shooting film by shyly raising their hand it's a surprise. In fact, in some cases there are those who have come to photography without ever having shot a roll of film! And now there are many, many folks who print their own images who never worked in the confines of a darkroom. It seems like much of film photography, and lots of traditional photographic printing simply fell off a cliff.

This amazing change in the state of affairs naturally has an effect on what we cover and how we cover photography in these pages. We take a certain pride in the eclectic mix we offer, everything from classic cameras to traditional darkroom to digital SLR reviews to software techniques to hybrid approaches to film/digital options. It's not that we want to be all things to all people; rather, we recognize that there are many creative paths in photography and that each is viable and has a place in our coverage. Our mission, then, is to cover the full breadth of photography in a way that no other photo/imaging book can or will. It is about Shutterbug's legacy, but it's also about how we see the art and craft evolving. We recognize that while digital dominates the news, there are photographers who use a mix of both, or swing back and forth between technologies to achieve their ends.

The understatement of the year is that photography is in transition; some would say it's already crossed over. We are not here to wave any particular flag. Our interest is in photography, its tools, its techniques, and the resultant creativity those tools and techniques unleash. Those are our new watchwords, which you'll see on our redesigned website and on our coming changed logo tagline. Shutterbug has always covered new gear, with in-depth tests, but those tests are always about creative application and use of the gear, not just a reiteration of specifications. Our articles are written by seasoned photographers who work with and know how to apply those tools. And, going forward you'll see more how-to articles covering techniques in both hardware and software.

The goal of all this discussion is to engender creativity, to get your own ideas stirred so that you can make the best photographs you've ever made. That might come in the form of getting photographers to talk about the tools and motivation behind their images or the spark that led to their creation, or in step by step application articles that might just open some new doors for you.

All this adds up to our commitment to the "serious" and engaged photographic community. Our purpose in publishing this magazine and creating a dynamic website is to serve and foster that community by engaging in photography in all its forms and to share our excitement about images and their creation. We will continue with the Shutterbug legacy, but continue to add in those new tools and techniques that have made photography the most exciting form of communication today. And we will continue to fight for standards and continued improvement in all forms of digital photography, because we know that it still has many issues that are of concern to all.

As much as we are able, we will make Shutterbug a mirror of the photographic times, and continue to offer you the richness of this unique art and craft. All the contributors to this magazine live and breathe photography, and each has their own unique perspective on how to get the most from it in terms of tools and techniques, vision and inspiration.

Everyone here at Shutterbug wishes you the best in the coming year, and thanks you for your support. We welcome your comments and suggestions, and always look for your input on our Forums at: www.shutterbug.com.