It would seem to me that there are many themes flowing through this week’s work on Rethinking Photographers. I’ll pick four:
First, the impact of technology on photography. I include in this not just digital cameras, mobile phones and the like – but social media, the Internet, cheap travel and so forth. In this I agree with Pierre – it’s a great time to be alive! And I also think it fascinating that, just as digital hits music and photography, so analogue is back on a growth curve. Vinyl, anyone? Stopping technology is a goal of King Canute, but enjoying retro is everyone’s right.
If you consider those wonderful iconic images from photography’s past, essentially every photographer used whatever technology they could, with differing results. The real issue is how to best use it – and, if you want to build a business, how to do that before your competition!
Second, the blurring between amateur/non-professional/professional photographers – which I would reference in terms of the ability to produce quality output, at a rapid rate, as a result of the above technology shifts. How do we decide what is a ‘professional’ image (hence the debate on using Hipstamatic)? I have a personal preference for sharp, crisp images – though I do play with Hipstamatic and love it. (The header to this post is Hipstamatic). Yet wasn’t it Cartier-Bresson who said that ‘Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.’ I love the work of Daido Moriyama, where the images transcend the tools he uses. He’s been taking ‘Hipstamatic’ style images since the 1960s 🙂
Thirdly, the ‘threat’ to the profession of Photography, as the profusion of imagery makes consumers doubt the value of images, and the costs drop dramatically. It makes profitable, professional business harder to come by. This is of course a serious issue.
But I also think it was extremely well covered in everyone’s posts on the other task this week. I don’t want to repeat that, but I do stand by my view that the profession is very much alive and kicking – and the abilities to consistently deliver, stay dedicated and seek (technological and aesthetic) opportunities mark out the Professional from others in the pursuit of making a living from photography.
And, finally, the impact of ‘everyone has a camera’, leading to increasing citizen journalism, with its inherent strengths and weaknesses. I actually think this is the biggest of the four challenges.
How do we, media consumers, know what is right, accurate, truthful? How can we preserve our personal privacy, and not get caught in the photographic crossfire? Yet, how can we also stay abreast of all the latest news. There is paradox around privacy which compounds things. We all want things personalised to us, yet we are paranoid about releasing our data (whether from our online browsing habits, our messages or our images).
And there is another challenge. Just because we can put image recognition cameras on every street corner doesn’t mean we should. Technology is usually running ahead of legal frameworks and even social norms.
One person’s cool is another person’s creepy.