MA-reflections-week three

MA reflections , week three

21.06.2019

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{ Falmouth University MA in photography – CRJ }

In June 2019 I started my MA with Falmouth university as part of an accredited education programme.

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This week I have been looking at what it means to be a photographer, both for myself, and how people view me/my practice. I have also been looking at other photographers, both professional photographers who’s work I admire and draw inspiration from, and also amateur photographers, and the rise of “Citizen photographers” and “UGC” (User generated content on platforms such as news websites, newspapers etc).

We were invited to look at the story of Damon Winters who took award winning photographs of soldiers using his phone and hipstamatic app, whilst discussing the trend of instant & lomography film cameras, and photo editing apps. As well as looking at these, we looked at articles related to Instagram, and the sharing and using of images taken by ‘citizen photographers’ and user generated content.

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With regards to the ever changing technology of camera Phones and photo apps, whilst I see the points that some people make about these jeopardising the jobs of photojournalists, and the poor quality of some of the images being used, in general I believe they are a good thing. At one point in history, I am sure photographers of the day, saw the smaller, more portable, and financially accessible cameras that were being introduced as a threat to their art, in much the same way. However mobile photography is here, there is simply no use in not utilising it for our own needs, and benefits.

To be able to best serve our clients, and keep our businesses current, I think it is important to know about, and/or try out new technology, ‘gimmicks’ and trends. I for one, adore the fact that polaroid has been revived, & the fun that lomography brings to the photographic world. When I am snowed under with work, or lacking creatively, for me to go out with my old polaroid cameras or my lomo’s (I have to say I hardly use the holga or Diana since I purchased the lomo instant camera) and to ‘just’ play around, is a great way to see in a new way,. Sometimes the results are just beautiful, if not a little crazy ! Below are some of our families experiments with the Diana and holga cameras over the years.

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Not to mention that the children adore the instant cameras as well. They combine the speed of the mobile phone generation, with the beauty and magic of film. I actually did my first ever photography club for children in 2014 using the instax mini cameras. The children were all aged 4-16 and they all adored it. The main for them, was very real, and also ‘only’ having those ten photographs, makes you really see in new and exciting ways, where you are 4 or 40 it doesn’t matter, the same principle is in effect, and anything that can make a child excited about photography, is a win in my eyes.

Polaroid images from my polaroid sun660

Image of sunset at the Louvre 2017 . Words by Emily Bronte

Image of sunset at the Louvre 2017 . Words by Emily Bronte

A terrible, awful, fuzzy , beautiful polaroid image 2013/4

A terrible, awful, fuzzy , beautiful polaroid image 2013/4

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With regards to challenges within my own practice I find this very interesting. On one side of it, there has definitely been a reduction in the amount of family photoshoots I do since camera phones became more widely used, and much better quality. However, on the flip side, the sheer volume of images people produce of every single aspect of their lives, has meant birth images are being shared more and more online. When birth images are shared, it breaks down barriers, starts conversations, and starts change, and this is what happened with facebook and instagram pages like the positive birth movement, and birth becomes her.

People sharing birth images, is always a good thing for bringing the beauty of it to peoples attention, the more it spread on instagram and other social media, the more and more interest I started getting, as people realise, like with wedding photography, no matter how great your phone may be, there are some images you or your partner just can’t take yourselves, nor do you want too !

So, to sum up , new technology, has both weakened and strengthened my business, but thats ok, I am fine with that, we all need to adapt and change, and as much as I miss the family photoshoots sometimes, I think it’s much more important that people are able to record their own lives, and children childhoods, at the end of the day that is what it is all about , memories, and for people to be in the position to record them as easily as we do now, is fabulous.

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How cameras are marketed, and the effect this has on peoples opinions of professional photographers.

Well, I think everyone thinks they are a photographer now, because, well everyone is !

But, as I’ve already said, I’m not worried about that. Camera phones, and the way they have been marketed & absorbed into society, have revolutionised our way of living, (in a lot of ways, for the worst definitely) but with regards to professional photographers, I think for some areas, it has damaged the business, and others it has inflated and refined it like in my examples above.

I think there is no doubt that people think being a professional photographer is easier now than it was 50 years ago. But, I also think that Camera phones have bought photography into the public sphere in such a way, that more of society knows what they do like, and don’t like, when they see an image, and therefore, one could argue that it has actually made our art much more relevant to todays society, so we are artistically actually in a stronger position.

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instant camera photography workshop for children 2014

instant camera photography workshop for children 2014

screen shot of my instagram account

screen shot of my instagram account

Copied from the weeks forum where we were asked to read Damon winter talking about a grunt’s life on the website poynter, and Stephen Bull discussing ‘digital never looked so analogue’ in Photoworks. We were asked to write a short response to these articles, and these were my thoughts …

As an ‘Instagrammer’, I find these essays interesting from both professional, and ‘consumer’ points of view.

Partly the reactions come from a place of truth, (I certainly found a drop in the number of family photoshoots I do in a year since iPhones)

Partly, they’re [the fears] born from fear. Fear, that we’re dispensable. I do believe there is a ‘risk’ to certain Genres of photography, but to think instagram/UGC will put us out of work, doesn’t hold; we didn’t see the demise of painters with paint by numbers. Anyone can practice as an artist, just because theres a lot of people doing it poorly/for fun,  it doesn’t mean that you throw in the towel.

Interestingly, since these articles, Instagrams’ estimated value has gone up to $1Billion (price paid by facebook in 2012), to an estimated $100 billion in 2018 (if it were a standalone business), with more than 1 billion users , it certainly doesn’t seem to be loosing it’s appeal. (Source : Emily McCormick , Bloomberg. 25-06-2018 .  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-25/value-of-facebook-s-instagram-estimated-to-top-100-billion (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. )

There’s certainly been  a ‘scaling back’ in intensity of filters on instagram, with users now opting for a more ‘unpolished’ look. Interesting, as in the articles we are led to believe the ‘gimmick’ of these apps was the ‘nostalgia’ they induced. However, it seems in an ever changing art world, instagram has already been through it’s ‘infancy’ as nostalgic gimmick, and is now entering adulthood, where it’s being taken more seriously as artistic tool and means of revenue for artists.

 

 

T~F~:

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