Week 3: Rethinking Photographers
Our weekly task was to read two articles and write a short response to them. In the first article ‘A Grunt’s Life’, Damon Winter defends his purpose and professionalism when using a mobile phone with filters for his photographic practice. The second article ‘Digital Photography never looked so Analogue’ is questioning the reasons why retro filters on apps are so popular whilst the actual analogue photography is not so much anymore. The articles can be found here: A Grunt’s Life, Digital Photography never looked so Analogue These are my thoughts to the topics above:
Challenges of Photo Journalism We also touched journalism in photography, the popular User Generated Content (Amateur content that is sent by the public to the newspapers) and why it is challenging to be a photo journalist nowadays. In my opinion the newspapers are rather interested in the speed of getting images than in having professional ones. They want to have any photograph depicting an event quickly after the event happened, regardless of whether it is taken by a professional or amateur. To inform the broader public about the event immediately. It is also more expensive to hire a photo journalist (to send him across the world), and pay for his travels in order to get professional photos of an event, than perhaps paying somebody local who is simply happy that his photos are used by the newspapers. This is the era we live in. The era of smartphones, wifi and the ability to connect and send the photographs quickly around the globe. The only thing we can do (if we are photo journalists) is to adapt and get involved in other photographic fields.
My peers seemed to be having similar opinions to mine. Some elaborated on young children using filters. I found it a very interesting observation; I watched a lady with her little girl taking a photograph of themselves. The girl who must of been only 8 or 9 told her mum that her skin was blotchy on an image so the 8 year took control of the phone and said " that's better, you can post it now " I was amazed (and saddened) to see a child who already has issues regarding her appearance due to apps, filters and social media. The view of the profession photography by non-photographers and the general public I always keep bumping into the stigma of seeing photography as an easy job as all the photographer has to do is just pressing a button. The other opinion on photography I hear every now and then is that photographers are ambitious predators who are not afraid to walk over dead bodies. The third view is another stereotype which presents photography as a good money making job. These all opinions are, however, true. But only up to a point, because every photographer is different, having different morals, background and is interested in a different photographic fields. I understand that the source of the first opinion comes from the fact that doing photography is very accessible to anybody nowadays so it might seem to be easy. But to be a good photographer involves more to than just owning a functional camera. The qualities are creativity, great execution of ideas, technical knowledge, ability to contextualise, etc. I also agree that some photographers are predators but some are not, just like in any other profession. The sad thing is that if one photographer is known for that it will create such an impression of the whole profession of photography. Just as the saying goes – one bad apple spoils the bunch. In response to the third view, subject of photography is very broad. There are fields where the photographers earn more money and in other fields they earn less. In my opinion the stereotype of rich photographers comes from those people who earn a lot of money by doing photography and show off on social media. The users viewing these posts probably built up an impression of rich photographers and marked all photographers rich. Or it might come from the past where photography was accessible only to the aristocracy. I admit, I do not know, I only speculate. If somebody reads and has a better point of view, please leave a comment! Going back to the first opinion again; My family’s reaction was not any different when I said I was going to be a photographer. They asked me to find a ‘normal’ job where I would gain some ‘real’ skills. Their attitude put me off seeing photography as a valid profession for a couple of years. The truth is, it is easy to become a photographer but becoming a good photographer is a lot of work. Now I overcame thinking less of myself for being a photographer and I really love what I do. One of the goals for me as a photographer is to leave a valuable legacy behind me. I believe this is a great aspect of my profession, to be able to express myself through the practice and share my view with others.
Technology in my practice Technology and its trends are changing fast, what impact does it have on my practice? I am one of those people who have not really experienced analogue photography as digital had already been very common when I was born. So I jumped straight into digital photography. However, besides my digital camera I also own a small analogue one. My dad gave it to me and it is older than I am. The fact that analogue photography was an uncommon medium when I started my practice was a reason why I was very curious to try it. So I knew photography from different aspects. I appreciate the limitation of shots on the film roll because this is a great way to improve my skills. I give myself one to two attempts for a scene and it teaches me to be more observant, patient and also be able to let go if it does not work out. The other aspect of analogue photography I enjoy is that I am not able to view the photographs immediately. I love anticipating the reveal of photographs I took a year ago. I think that is the beauty of (analogue) photography; the capture, anticipation and reveal of moments in time that represent the past. However, analogue photography rather serves to my personal purposes and is not part of the main practice. For which I use my digital camera. I am not a technology ‘geek’ who follows the trends and gets excited about news cameras and equipment. I only know my own camera inside out as in my opinion this is all I need to know to accomplish my goals. Of course, better technology will give me better results but the photographer’s vision and ability to create is irreplaceable and more important.