I think that the approachable surreal aspect of photograph, namely black and white, will always hold a fascination for people.
It ebbs and flows in it's popularity, but it still seems the most dramatic, impactful due to its "cutting to the chase" aesthetic, and to it's humanity. What I mean is, it still feels real, although we don't see the world in black and white, but it strips away all the extraneous and leaves us with the essence or the importance or the subject.
It's still approachable but surreal at the same time. It's still our world but not quite. Much like a great song. We don't talk in song but yet for 3 minutes it's able to compress our feelings into a more memorable and moving presentation. So it's part of us yet apart at the same time.
As the evolution of the digital age progresses and the utter swamping of images in the different media, I don't have a clue where "photography" is heading. Granted people do like novelty of the newest toys but still love and appreciate the perfection of a black and white analog or digital print that can move them.
I can't see that ever changing.
I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.
For sure, I didn't mean to post this as another 'film is dead' thread. I just thought this was provocative and very interesting. It had me thinking of something like Ray Kurzweils Law of Accelerating Returns in terms of where photography is going next.
Photography has actually found its place in serving a universal social function - the reason we don't see anything radically new then is that photographers have stopped searching for the 'meaning' of the medium. We've found it. And it wasn't artists who found it, but ordinary people.
You can look at Harry Callahan as someone who experimented with every facet of photographic seeing, but miss the point that the strength of his work depends on how reflective it is of his ordinary life experience. He photographed his family and his immediate surroundings, just better than everyone else. 'New' in photography can be seen as new subjective concerns or new ways of seeing the same old crap. Isn't the latter responsible for most movements? Isn't it happening all the time, with every new photographer who picks up a camera? New things are being created all the time, they just don't stay new for very long. This isn't a problem with photography, but how small the world has become.
Because photography has found its function amongst the masses, a game changing revolution might only ever happen again in tandem with some kind of global shift in awareness, as the result of a cataclysmic event, because most people are intellectually and creatively average and uninspired. It's people now, rather than artists, who are responsible for photography's real momentum and social influence and I guess it will only ever move in gentle waves. Nobody wants to sail on rough seas!
Nothing radically new in a technological sense will happen with photography so long as Canon, Nikon and friends continue indefinitely playing this slow, cautious game of tech chess.
I think/hope future generations may view analog photography in the same way we now view painting, as a medium with initial truthful physical integrity.
“The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”
I think the camera-in-every-phone aspect is quite important, as part of a trend that's been in progress since the birth of photography: the drift of the technology "downward" into more casual/vernacular uses. That effect has been widely observed across the history of analog photography---wet plates to dry plates to sheetfilm to rollfilm to 35mm to autoexposure to autofocus to p&s compacts, each stage prioritizing convenience and accessibility rather than absolute artistic control and image quality.
Originally Posted by Eugen Mezei
Which, you might argue, intrinsically makes the photographer less of a special snowflake, because the trend is for photography to become ever more of an "anyone can do this" art. IMHO, different capture media aren't a very interesting aspect of this curve, except inasmuch as they remove the need for darkroom technique (but so did Polaroid)---different form factors in the camera, however, are very interesting. A camera that fits in your pocket, is always with you, and auto-does everything, including distributing the image for people to look at? You know, you push the button and it does the rest? I've heard that slogan somewhere before. :-)
Maybe, but I tend to think this is one of those things that everyone believes about their own era. It's pretty hard to tell what's revolutionary until you have the benefit of hindsight. The ridiculous omnipresence of photography via mobile phones is a change, certainly, and I'm not confident that we won't look back on it in a few decades and find something "art-shaking" in the blurring of the lines between personal, art, and documentary photography.
The problem is that nothing new appears. Maybe it is a consequence that almost anything was photographed, but even this is not the real, exclusive reason. I think the reason is that no revolution is happening. Nobody comes up with something really "art-shaking".
Heck, I see more revolution than that just in the gallery here, and I'm not even very assiduous about checking it. There are a lot of technically good landscapes (which I tend to like) and nudes (which I don't), neither of which really represents groundbreaking photography; there's a certain amount of the "generic street grit" style you're describing; but then there's a lot of stuff that I'd describe as "the extraordinary in the ordinary"---semi-abstractions of familiar views reframed as unfamiliar---as well as process experiments, strong portraiture work, minimalism, classic-styled street candids without the dirt...
I see only thousands of variations of the same "streetphotography" that's considered "cool" but mostly saying nothing, industrial where the more trash the better and if you put a model in some dirty or motoroiled clothes in the picture than it is considered perfect (but unfortunately it was presented the same way thousands of times, maybe the first time it was somewhat innovative), social photography where the goal seem to be to find people in the most desolate environments, portraits, fashion all the same endless variations of what we have seen also thousands of times, etc, etc. Nothing really revolutionary nor in the ideea nor in the realisation.
I'm talking through my hat as usual, but maybe we in the film world are in a bit the same role as the Pre-Raphaelites, in our belief (held to varying degrees, to be sure) that the modern conventions and techniques of photography tend to distract from the "soul" or artistic strength of the image. (Should we be calling ourselves the Pre-Sassonite Brotherhood? :-) That's a reactive rather than a purely creative position, but IMHO it's a constructive part of the development of an art; sometimes there need to be periods of retrenchment and rediscovery, and they feed into the same artistic mill as everything else.
San Diego, CA, USA
The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
-The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_
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I was at a workshop last night at my local photo club. The workshop presenter was a photographer named Aura McKay. Aura is quite talented, and an excellent presenter as well.
Her workshop title was "Composition and Creativity", and her central theme was essentially that a photographer can use photography to the greatest effect when they use it to help discover and show a different and interesting view of the world.
That isn't particularly new, but it also isn't out of date either.
I'm still discovering new things with photography, and I see others who appear to be doing the same as well.
Aura started out with training in film, and has recently transitioned to digital, but I don't think the medium matters much on whether photography is relevant. It just effects how omni-present it is.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
Actually, I like the shot Leonard Nimoy took of his mom and dad...
Originally Posted by RalphLambrecht
I meant to comment on the recording...
Thanks adelorenzo, It was fun listening to a local piece. Too bad it was only 6 minutes, I could have listened to him talk for an hour.
I think often about how art photography fits into the future of photography in general. As an art photo student, I don't really have anything to do with the commercial side of photography and don't do it on the side (not that I have an issue with those that do). I photograph people because I want to do that and I'm sort of figuring out what I really want out of my work. Many of my fellow art photographers occupy an odd space. We make work with much different intent and (hopefully) vision than most other photographers, and technological changes affect us differently. Instagram and cellphone photos in general and just about everything else exists in an almost parallel universe in a way. Some of the photographs taken there are terrific, even if not shot with a particular artistic vision. Much of the rest is just noise, however interesting it can be sometimes. I think of Instagram as being the equivalent of 35mm cameras in the 1970s and 1980s. The picture quality is almost identical now (I refer to the quality most amateurs and snapshooters got, not professionals and high quality amateurs using the same cameras), and the only difference is that prints were common in those days and are rare now from cellphones.
For me as an art photographer, all I really want is to be able to use film to photograph people in a way of my choosing. I'm not sure how many more art photographers (actual and potential) there are now vs. a generation ago. There are probably more, given the advent of digital to allow people to experiment and gradually figure things out more cheaply, but at the same time, I think stylized photography that quickly turns into fodder for the usual places is much more common.
For people living in the small world I spend a lot of my time in, the changes both affect us a lot and not much at all. Film is still commonplace, some people use processes that were old at the beginning of the 20th century, and generally speaking, photographs and bodies of work are made with some kind of artistic intent, however loose it can be sometimes. Is our community so small, even taken altogether, that we don't even show up as a blip on the photographic radar? A "yes" answer to that wouldn't surprise me. Just sort of asking in general .
"I wish that more people felt that photography was an adventure the same as life itself and felt that their individual feelings were worth expressing. To me, that makes photography more exciting."
-- Harry Callahan
This Christmas I received a new pen. This pen has something different: a camera and 4Gb flash storage. Have we move into a post-photographic age? I think that we have moved into a hyper-photographic age. There is that Kickstarter project for a wearable camera that makes a snapshot every 30 seconds. Record the moments of your life! For no really good reason. Upload them for all to see! For no really good reason. Because you have a gadget, and it goes blink blink blink.
Is life an adventure because your moments are recorded with a camera? I could wander around for 90 minutes at a time, recording 640x480 at 15fps. Oh, my, I walked down to the store, bought some stuff, and walked back. Did I express myself by recording every movement? I read a book. Oooh, how operatic! Or maybe not.
Hanna Arendt used the phrase, "banality of evil," in her thesis, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Here I have the banality of every day life. I don't think that life is dramatized simply because it is photographed. It simply is. Yeah, sure, there may be dramatic moments in life. Perhaps there may be an interesting vignette. But 24/7, on the average, life is not a major drama.
So anything other than the banal has to be carefully collected. Sure, I can make a snapshot with the pen whenever I feel like it. But just because I clicked the pen doesn't mean that the moment is special. I have to make the determination to curate the present. I must always figure out which little moment, which scene, is actually special and worth saving. Perhaps saving it for someone else, or just for me.
So, no, we don't live in anything like a post-photographic age. We now live in an age where photography has moved into an even faster speed. How many images are shared on a daily basis? Through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, whatever. And there are new services every month. More ideas on how to connect people in a manner that they want to be connected.
Information as banal as walking down the street.
Welcome to the banality of the present.