While I agree with many of the points brought up in this article, I do feel like there are some things worth debating. 1. This quote: “if you exposed film for a white kid, the black kid sitting next to him would be rendered invisible except for the whites of his eyes and teeth.”
This would work exactly the same way the opposite way round - if you exposed for the black kid, the white kid would be blown out and you’d see nothing but their pupils and lips. This does not work specifically against black people. Unfortunately, especially with film photography, the technology is not quite there to fit in both ends of the light spectrum. You cannot photograph anything with both black and white and not have one of them come out either under- or overexposed (as you can see in this article’s first image - in the top middle example the white gloves are blown out and the middle of the black dress is under-exposed, leaving you with nothing but middling greys). The bias then is down to the photographer, not the film, as they are the ones who should choose what is important. 2. Listen to the names of the products - Fuji, Kodak, Nikon - all Japanese names. Film was developed to be most suitable for Japanese skin tones. It just happens that Asian skin tones are more similar to white than black. And while modern digital product development is more geared towards including different skin tones, most product development still happens in (racially homogeneous) Japan (my father-in-law works for Canon product development in Tokyo.)
I definitely agree that instant film processing (as evidenced by the American Shirley cards example) is biased towards white people. Hence why most professional photographers process their own films. That, though, is the fault of the individuals programming those machines, not of the technology. Whenever I have to take either my film or my digital pictures to a lab to print, I ask them to switch off the auto-correct on the machines. A decent lab with trained technicians rather than a part-time button-jockey should be able to do that for you. The progression towards the end of this article of how the writer began teaching the camera to see dark skin was not the miraculous changing of technology - it was the writer becoming a better photographer. The comments on this article describing problems with auto-colour, auto-focus, etc really bother me. A decent photographer NEVER uses auto-anything because it removes all contrast and dumbs everything down to a middling grey. Try taking everything off auto, actually learn how to use your camera and see how much better you manage to capture EVERYTHING. It would also be good to see either some explanation of the pictures in this article (why they were chosen and what they’re trying to portray), or the pictures spoken about in the article. It’s difficult to form an opinion when the pictures chosen are blurry/cross-processed/filtered/blown-out like crazy. Having said all that (if anyone’s read this far), I would like to again stress that there are many points in this article that I do agree with, and it is very well-written and thought-provoking. As such, there are just a few points that are worth debating and thinking about more deeply.