My vacation is coming to an end. Only a few more days of lounging around and scanning. A few months ago I signed up for Timehop which sends you daily emails with your social media posts from a year ago. Mine are mostly Tweets, Instagram photos and Foursquare checkins. I’ve also been trying to use Oh Life which is basically an email diary. They send you an email, you respond if feel like it. What’s more interesting though is that in the emails they’ll show you what you wrote X amount of days before. So I’ve been using it to jot done some ideas, random observations and thoughts on photography. I don’t know what all of this data means or if it has any benefit for my photography but I think our obsession with documenting nearly everything is getting rather interesting.
There’s an episode of Through the Wormhole called ‘Can we resurrect the dead?” where they touch on archiving our consciousness. In one experiment, there were a group of people that wore little cameras around their necks which would make something like 2,000 images a day. The software could recognize when they were looking at something new so the output gives a good glimpse of exactly what the subjects saw.
Lo and behold, this week in Fast Company I read about “A Wearable Camera That Photographs Your Entire Life.” I’ve been wondering how this obsessive documenting might impact our perception of time. Even today when I get those reminders about things that happened a year ago I amazed at how long ago it seems. Another issue with all this documentation is archiving, something Joerg Colberg touches on in ‘The Internet as Photography Archive.”
This is on the top of my mind because I just started using Lightroom and find it confusing! It’s suppose to do wonders for archiving and working with a large database but where do you start? It’s a completely new process from using Bridge+Photoshop. This maybe odd, but I actually find organizing and archiving to be an enjoyable part of the photographic process. It helps me better understand what I’m doing. I can trace my progression and dig into the archives to find photographs that might give me some ideas for the future. I have a long way to go though. I still need to sleeve a few hundred rolls of film. That’s something I don’t really enjoy.
Links of Note
James Luckett has some excellent tips on ‘How to edit your artist statement.’ I’m thinking of printing out the following tip and pasting it above my computer.
You have no duty to the facts. Your loyalty is to the honesty of your ideas, emotions, dreams, desires and needs; what Werner Herzog calls the ecstatic truth. That is your goal. Nobody cares about the minutiae and what you want is to make people care. Tell them a good story.
Michael Johston, aka ‘The Online Photographer’ wrote a lengthy article about Google Street View, but as is usually the case when he gets rolling, it’s about bigger ideas.
And many different photographers have had their own ways of refining or adapting the basic art-photography idea. Many photographers don’t do their own editing. Many (especially now) don’t do any editing. To some, the craft is paramount; for others, the craft is delegated. Some people shoot a lot, some a little; some like found scenes, others like to control everything in front of the camera. Some people like funky equipment and sloppy technique, or accidents, or the telltales of photographic “errors” such as motion blur or odd cropping, and others are fastidious or even fanatical about every detail of “image quality” (a loaded term if ever there was one).
When any of the competing parameters get too far out of balance, it becomes a distortion. The various distortions are sometimes even based on fashions or trends. One trend I see now among photo enthusiasts and hobbyists is for people to be very demanding about the equipment they use but not at all demanding about what they do with it.
PDN has a nice wrap up article about the ASMP program “Sustainable Business Models: Issues & Trends Facing Visual Artists.”
What Mason calls “the tsunami of vernacular photography” puts more pressure on professionals to create something that will stand out. (Panelist Rob Haggart, photo editor turned photo blogger, said that when he started out as a ski photographer, the barrier for entry to the profession was “a photo that was in focus.” The standards are higher now.) But the vast and growing numbers of people avidly looking for great images on web sites and Instagram represent a huge potential audience. The question for professionals is how to turn this audience into customers for professional photographers’ expertise, their images, their crowd-funded projects—or some product or service we haven’t thought of yet.
During yesterday’s panel, Haggart noted that photographers who use social media to share the stories behind their photos aren’t just chatting; they’re promoting their authority. Photographers, and yes, the publications who champion professional photographers, can do more to educate the photo-loving public that the professional images they see do not simply spring from cameras. They are the products of thought, creativity, skill, attention, rapport with a subject, journalistic enterprise and more.
David Campbell on ‘The difficulty of talking about photography.”
I’m coming to doubt the usefulness of both the question ‘what is photography’, and writing that presumes the unity of a field as it investigates its problems. Indeed, in recent times – especially after speaking at Visa Pour L’Image in Perpignan, an academic conference in Toronto, and running the first World Press Photo multimedia seminar in Amsterdam – I’ve been personally struck by the difficulty of even talking about photography generally. To use the term as an all-encompassing concept seems pretty much impossible.
After all, what, if anything, connects stock photography, fashion photography, art photography, news photography, conceptual photography, documentary photography, amateur photography, forensic photography, vernacular photography, travel photography, or whatever sort of photography?
Joerg Colberg on ‘How to possibly approach writing on photography.’
However, my writing is just that: My writing, the writing that’s coming from me, of course is based on my judgments, which can be – and often are – ridiculously flawed. That’s just the way it is. I know that that’s the case, and I do it regardless. I don’t want to be flawed, and every piece of writing brings me a little bit closer to being slightly less flawed in that particular aspect I was writing about (while, possibly, bringing me much closer to be flawed in all kinds of other ways).
But I do believe that to produce writing, hopefully good writing, one needs to be able to lean out of the window and just live with the risk of making a fool of oneself. Here’s the thing, the moment you don’t want to just write about the usual controversies online, the moment you want to steer a debate to talking about merit – that very moment, something is at stake, because inevitably a lot of people will disagree with you.
Michael Shaw with a great series on ‘The State of the News Photo.’ I saw his presentation at Photoville this past summer and it was really interesting.
If the news photo, or the news image, truly is more prominent than ever now, the question is: why?What is a news photo these days? If you’re thinking about news photos as playing a simple Illustrative function where they play nice, do what they’re told and then retreat quietly into the archive, those days are over. Like the role player on TV that suddenly gets his or her own show… the news photo has taken on a much larger, and more independent cultural role. As a three pronged explanation how that’s happened the answer is: the Internet, social media and spin culture. But let’s break it down a little more… Circulation and the social networks The news site today is no longer the end destination for a news photo. Instead, it’s the quick audition and jumping off point for a larger life, sometimes a viral one, as an object of thought and cultural commentary by the ideological media, citizen journalists and the public at large via social network distribution and fair use. Whereas the newspaper and broadcast news traditionally held a physical and editorial monopoly over news imagery, that authority has been largely diffused by the internet. And like a big bulletin board, there’s now a built in anticipation on Twitter,Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest, and cultural, political and photo websites and blogs about what news images are out there and what the next key image is going to be.