Re-Thinking Photographers

Photography always seen as a glamorous profession – an easy way to earn a good living, but with cameras & software making the ‘profession’ available to Joe Public by their ease of use…is photography being diluted as a serious medium?

Photographers On Film

Linked to aspirational ideals, also a sexualized fantasy as sex sells & desire is key to commercial world so the photographers world is seen as a hedonistic portrayal of desire. Camera (and lens) seen as phallic symbolism.
Also seen as whistle blower exposing social injustices – Photography seen as a weapon of change.
Sometimes show negatively in voyeuristic or psychopathic roles (Peeping Tom, Michael Powell, 1960) brings in the power of the photograph to capture & own the thing it depicts.

Manufacturers & Developers

Advertising invariably aimed at men with the use of symbolism. Marketed as a family necessity rather than a sophisticated tool for professionals further devalues the role of professional photographer. Lomography movement became a fashion item giving rise to retro photography styling in the analogue as well as retro photography apps (Instagram, hipstamatic etc). Fits in with the shabby-chic upscaling mix&match make-do-an-mend 40’s styling which is currently en-vogue…so much so that probably half the images shared on social media have been ‘processed’ through these retro apps. Gives an idealised feeling of family/endless summer and joyful times at odds with current global financial recession & austerity … nostalgia created by the Polaroid styling.

Photojournalism & Amateur Aesthetics

In contrast with citizen journalism…eye witness content – poor quality adds to the genuineness and ‘truth’ of the image
If you want to get good action shots, they mustn’t be in focus. If your hand trembles a little, then you get a fine action shot.’ (Capa in Alex Kershaw, Blood and Champagne. London: Macmillan. 2002. p.43)
Traditional photojournalists are de-camping to the ‘art’ camp & producing documentary themes for book publishing or gallery exhibitions & galleries are becoming less about the art & more about the social aspects of the story or photographer
Is the smartphone a less intimidating piece of technology to be photographed with enabling the photographer a greater flexibility & intimacy with the subject and the chance to get ‘realer’ images ?

Role Of Aesthetics In Journalism

Damon Winter’s award winning Hipstamatic photojournalism shots of Afghanistan
Must consider the tools we use & their own symbolism as much as the images. A great image should always be a great image and enhanced by the use of filters. Filters shouldn’t be used to cover up poor work. His argument that the majority of imagery is filtered anyway does not stand up as it is the specific aesthetic stylising of this particular app comes with it’s own connotations which do not sit happily with ‘true’ photojournalism. The use of a smartphone to enable the subjects to feel more comfortable and at ease is a fair argument – it is the use of a toy app on the phone that dilutes the genuineness of the shots and is in danger of reducing the the results to an art-school aesthetic rather than something that should make the viewer stop and give careful consideration.
Barthe’s Camera Lucida…photographs capture the past & preserve a version of it “Hauntological” (Jaques Derrida)


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