Thoughts on Life, Art, Photography, Technology, Teaching and Travel…..
I recently came across an article in The Guardian called “The Death of Photography: Are camera phones destroying an Artform? After reading it I thought it would be a good topic to pursue and explore more in-depth here on Keo BloG. Before you go any further please take a few moments to read the article linked above…..
Ok…now that we all read the article what do you think?
The article starts off with this lead paragraph.
“It’s really weird,” says Antonio Olmos. “Photography has never been so popular, but it’s getting destroyed. There have never been so many photographs taken, but photography is dying.”
There really are two sides to this argument addressed in this article. I am going to use some of the issues brought out and add my own experiences, observations and thoughts about the direction photography seems to be heading. Photography is a relatively young medium compared to other art forms like painting, sculpture and ceramics.
According to the article…Antonio Olmos argues that in the 1850s the rise of photography made many painters, who had previously made nice livings from painting family portraits, redundant. Now it’s the turn of professional photographers to join the scrap heap. “Photographers are getting destroyed by the rise of iPhones. The photographers who used to make £1,000 for a weekend taking wedding pictures are the ones facing the squeeze. Increasingly we don’t need photographers – we can do just as well ourselves.”
I’ve heard this many times from my commercial photography colleagues. Professional photographers are finding it more difficult to compete and get viable jobs because so many potential clients now believe they can “do it themselves” with their digital cameras.
Photography has been reinventing itself ever since Louis Daguerre made the first Daguerreotype. It is interesting to note that soon after the invention of the daguerreotype French history painter Paul Delaroche supposedly declared that PAINTING WAS DEAD!
In some ways I suppose it was the beginning of the end for the art of painting – at least as a mode for representing external reality. Photography does this so much better, faster and cheaper. Some artists in the late 1800’s were very intimidated by photography, yet some like Delacroix saw it as a new and powerful tool to help them make better paintings.
“Delaroche is particularly remembered for his much-quoted remark, on seeing the Daguerreotype, that “from today, painting is dead!“ Though it makes an interesting story, the author has yet to find any evidence that Delaroche actually said this! He was, in fact, a leading advocate of photography, as the following observations, some of which come from his report to the French government, show:
“The Daguerreotype process completely satisfies all the demands of art, carrying essential principles of art to such perfection that it must become a subject of observation and study even to he most accomplished painters.”
“The painter will discover in this process an easy means of collecting studies which he could otherwise only have obtained over a long period of time, laboriously and in a much less perfect way, no matter how talented he might be.”
Ok…so much for the history lesson. The point is the medium of photography is evolving and has been since the mid-1800’s.
Excerpt below from my an earlier blog post called Analog vs. Digital.
I can remember making my first print over 40 years ago in the darkroom of New York Institute of Technology like it was yesterday. It was one of those “AHHA” moments for me, and to think many photographers have only worked in the digital realm and may never have experienced the mood and mystery of the darkroom with its smells of Dektol, Stop Bath and Fixer, making prints under the glow of an amber safe light.
We must remember that digital photographic technology is still in its embryonic stage. We can’t even imagine how its going to look 10 years from now. The technology has advanced so rapidly it is mind boggling. It’s also important to remember that the art of painting has been with us for 35,000 + years and photography has only been around since the 1830′s – about 170 years. In that relatively short period of time it has undergone many amazing transformations.
When its all said and done photography is still about seeing the world and translating what we see with our camera no matter what type of camera we are using and what we use to process the images.
Photography is now shown prolifically on blogs, social networks like Facebook, sent via e-mail, cell phone and twitter and yes is still exhibited in galleries and museums in print form, however is the mystic behind the actual printed image fading?
The print used to be the final step in the photographic process before matting framing and possibly exhibiting. This is still occurring no doubt, but a new generation of photographers and even many older photographers like myself and viewers of photography have other options and avenues for using, viewing, appreciating and analyzing photographs besides making actual prints.
So what about this THING we call the print? In gaining all these new creative venues (outlets) for showing / sharing photography, has the print been relegated to an after thought or more commercial realms? Is there a real difference between looking at an actual print and the same image posted on the web in digital form?
I create many images with my cell phone, point and shoot, Holga and Canon 5-D that are posted to my blog, but never get printed. Does the viewing experience change when viewed from a computer screen or cell phone? I personally think so!
So yes…photography is rapidly evolving and many of the changes in the medium are great and exciting, however I must admit to missing the “thingness” of the printed photograph. I can’t even imagine what photography will be like in 10 – 20 years. What will the cameras look like? I wouldn’t be surprised if traditional 35mm cameras were completely replaced by very sophisticated and high resolution cell phone like devices. Cell photo cameras have gotten incredibly good in the past few years. The technology is evolving at rapid speed and I don’t see it slowing up any time soon.
So the point is… the medium of photography is constantly changing, evolving AND reinventing itself. That in itself is a very exciting thing. We have come a long way since Stieglitz, Strand, Weston and Ansel Adams. Just think of the possibilities – they are infinite. With that said, the photographic industry is dramatically different than it was 10 – 20 years ago because of the nature of the digital medium and the competitive global economy we live in.
Photographers are going to have to forge their own paths into the digital terrain and carve out professional lives and careers. They are going to have to come up with new ways to market their professional services. It is going to take ingenuity, creativity and entrepreneurial chutzpa to harness and ride the digital wave.
There are endless opportunities for all serious photographers and the winners will be the ones who tap into a void that YOU and you only can fill with your innovative ideas and creative photographic vision.
Your thoughts??? Would love to hear your comments.
also check out my blog post “Has Photography Lost its Soul”