In the technology driven world we now inhabit I wonder if still and/or print photographs remain relevant. We can take hundreds of shots practically instantaneously with the digital technology available. Do we still respect them in the way that our ancestors did? Or even a few generations ago? I would think the ease with which we can now take them and store them has resulted in a decrease in the respect with which we hold photographs and by extension professional photographers. Literally a click from our finger and the camera does the rest to create that “perfect” shot. We can also take a series of the same shot to enable choice of the best shot, rather than in the past where any shot was rarer. Do we still need professional photojournalists?
In the past, the professional photographer was reverred for their skill at capturing what seems almost impossible to conceive. When studying I researched James Nachtwey and while his photographs often shocked me, this photographer simply captivates me. Part of the reverence I feel is that he will travel to and engage in capturing photographs at great risk to himself. That accessibility remains a factor in the professional photographers favour. Every day photographers are often geographically limited, plus who can be everywhere at every story?
Regarding what motivates him, Nachtwey reflects,
Why photograph war? Is it possible to put an end to human behavior which has existed throughout history by means of photography? The proportions of that notion seem ridiculously out of balance yet that very idea has motivated me.
It interests me that choosing the right photo can mean poring over a selection of what is essentially the same photo of yourself. They are all of YOU, so why is it so hard to pick the best one? Should there even be a best one? I wonder what that says about us that we have a best photo to show the world, is that then a condemnation of the ‘lesser’ images. Lesser images that are still of you!! Are we trying to find our very own iconic image? Are we seeking to create the photographic persona that is how we want to be seen ALL the time rather than photographs that just capture us in that moment. Have we become that aware of what our photographs can be used for that we have to attempt to control every single time they are shared. In the past we knew where our photographs went as we mailed them to family etc or the person was looking through our album, beside us. With the internet our images have endless potential viewing and use purposes.
Are photographs still displayed in frames on the wall or are we now more inclined to create photo books that sit on the book shelf of coffee table? I love that I can go into Harvey Norman and sit at a booth, check, edit, resize and create a photo album with commentary. I can delete the not so great images or I can just store the whole lot under a file name on my computer. The possibilities are endless. I must say that a recent habit for me is to blow up the photos that mean the most to us and then frame them, rather than buying the “perfect” stock image. It means that as well as the image itself, there is a story about how we captured and chose that image.
There used to be a cultural belief that taking a photograph steals the soul of the person being photographed. I believe that today the soul may or may not be stolen in the process of photography but identity is definitely at risk. The risk is to your identity being stolen in the now famous process of being the image that a catfish uses to trick others but also to having your identity affixed to a specific image in a specific circumstance. I discussed the problem for the person in the iconic image in my post:
Digital images are so fluid in nature, a quick flick of the button and you can have a series of the same focus and you can delete those images instantaneously. Photography is like an instant gratification process now but if your image becomes iconic it can become your identity whether you choose it to be or not. The instant photography culture can create some scarily permanent consequences.
I have one major gripe with the availability of images and ease of sharing publicly – Selfies. I don’t have a problem with the odd selfie – I have posted some to show my fitness journey. It is the endless repetition of images of the same person that can flood my facebook page. You can argue that it is for self esteem but really how honest will your “friends” really be on your 100th selfie image that day? And if you do receive no comments or likes how much impact does that have on your self respect? I always think when someone comments I look stunning today –
Heck how bad did I look yesterday?
Opening your photographs to solicited and unsolicited comment and sharing is an iffy proposition. I must say my favourite meme was one that circulated saying that thanks to selfies for showing us every bathroom in America!
To finish, this morning I put on my jeans that I haven’t worn since winter. I thought to myself that:
I look good!
I snapped a photo (yep in our bathroom lol) and posted it to my Weight Watchers connect site and I am posting it here. I think I meant I feel good. In the photo the jeans look baggy and the top sits really nicely on me – I have a waistline LOL. I just felt confident, no where near my goal weight, which is what I have been aiming for. Accepting me in whatever outfit or size! The jeans are going to be going to charity as I am NOT getting that big ever again because I am making a lifestyle change and not a short term diet one.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment on any aspect of this post. I enjoy interacting with readers and learning new insights through doing so.