Mary Warnier Marien – Photography: A Cultural History

As identified in my first practise run I needed to read more core texts to broaden my knowledge and understanding of photography as a medium. This would provide a stable basis and comprehensive understanding after which I could progress and investigate on a smaller scale the exact subject matter that I am basing my paper on. Although I had already identified my area to focus on I still needed to start wide and then focus down as this would mean my investigation would be informed and supported by the core texts. I started with Photography: A Cultural History, 4th Edition by Mary Warner Marien which was a text on the reading list provided by Anthony.

Having looked through the contents I identified that there were some sections that would be more relevant to me and some sections that wouldn’t. This book covers all aspects of photographic history including photography as art, portraiture feminism and other aspects however I was mainly interested in documentary, photojournalism and any political associations with photography. I chose to make notes on the sections I felt were relevant to my symposium paper and just skim read through the other sections to see if there was anything potentially useful.

 

Introduction

  • In 1839 photography was defined as ‘light writing’
  • There has been a big evolutionary process from the daguerreotype to digital photography
  • The inventor of the daguerreotype was Louis-Jacques-Made Daguerre
  • Photography has always been ‘cross-disciplinary’ (used as artistic expression, record keeping, journalism, scientific documentation, family history)
  • Stylessness (an absence of style) is a style within it’s own right
  • Photographic genres have always had the capacity to cross and integrate – to be ‘porous’
  • A photographer’s influence doesn’t have to be restricted to just the visual arts

Evaluation:

I had been previously characterising the change from analogue to digital as a ‘paradigm shift’ and previous to that I believed there was a ‘paradigm shift’ from painting to analogue photography. However examining the history of photography in a bit more detail has taught me that there hasn’t been a definitive shift, the evolutionary process of photography has been complex and doesn’t necessarily mean that the older methods of image-making have been stamped out by old technology. The term ‘shift’ references a change in allegiance and certainly this has been the case in reference to a greater amount of people choosing to use digital camera technology however this doesn’t mean that there has been a definitive end to analogue. I was particularly drawn to the ideology of photography being ‘cross disciplinary’, this links with Shahidul Alam’s talk in Phonar about considering photography as a tool for social change, be it in an artistic sense or even in an environment such as medicine. In addition to this, referencing photographic genres as ‘porous’ is an interesting idea and is something to consider in reference to photojournalism in my symposium paper. Although it is evident that genres can interlink and reference each other, this could perhaps be the reason why the category of ‘straight’ photography that was established is under threat because it has grown too close to the category of conceptual image-making.

 

PART ONE – Photography’s Double Invention

Chapter Two: The Second Invention of Photography (1839-1854)

  • Aside from the daguerreotype, there was the calotype invented by Talbot which was patented in 1841
  • ‘Photography seemed a science wedded to a craft, fundamentally dependant on the photographer’s knowledge of chemistry and willingness to experiment’ page 24
  • The calotype allowed for multiple copies, a softer quality and an ability to retouch whereas the daguerreotype had sharper focus and superior detail.

Evaluation:

The quotation was interesting to me as it reminded me of the module we were set in second year where we made pinhole cameras in an attempt to get us to previsualize and work to physically construct the visual outcome. As the process behind making these images was long and quite difficult to do, it really made me take a step back and predict the outcome of every decision I made. I would go as far to say that photographers that started out using analogue photography are more of a craftsman than one who has only used digital technology as they know the physical process behind making an image. In addition to this, the debate between the calotype and the daguerreotype seems quite familiar when I consider the debate between analogue and digital. Where the digital image allows for multiple copies and the digital editing software allows for a greater capacity in retouching, those who practise analogue photography remain certain that the analogue print has a better visual quality and detail.

 

Chapter Four – Imaging of the Social World

  • Practitioners didn’t identify that analogue technology was too slow and not suitable for war photography
  • Roger Fenton was the founder of the Photographic Society in 1853

Evaluation:

Perhaps one of the most influential examples of analogue technology being too slow and the fact it is unsuitable was Joe Rosenthal’s image of the Marines raising the flag. Although there was an original negative that was caught in the action, the actual image used was one that was restaged. Some war imagery was blurred and this was believed and interpreted as movement in the environment however some sharper images like the Fallen Solider were targeted in reference to concerns over the scene being staged.  This has taught me that speculations around photographic truth and the suitability of photography in the context of war were present before digital technology was created. This is definitely a concept to consider for my symposium paper.

 

Photography and Modernity (1880-1918)

  • Kodak hit the market in 1888 with the slogan ‘you push the button – we do the rest’
  • Photography and industrialisation was generated by the production of newspapers and magazines – in particular the process of half tone printing which allowed images and text to be produced together at a high speed
  • In the 1880s there were more than 60 photo journals and 161 photographic societies
  • The New York Times in 1884 claimed there was a ‘photo epidemic’

Evaluation:

There is an evident link with photography, modernity and the idea of speed and being able to keep up. Perhaps introduced and encouraged by Kodak’s continuing inventions which focused on the idea of convenience and instantaneous image-making. This instantaneous nature has been continued and perhaps accelerated in digital photography and digital culture, where image-making and news reportage is a race to keep up with the rest of the world. However in this time period there was still a big market for the photojournalist because the citizens didn’t have the capacity to produce the ‘professional’ standard of imagery that photoessays featured.

Mass Media and Mass Markets

  • The half tone process replaced the illustrators and sketchers previously responsible for the images
  • The press photographer and photo agencies developed in response
  • However images still couldn’t be wired like text could so there was still a delay, for local pictures it was 1 month and for international pictures it would be 3-4 months
  •  Images were cropped, retouched and sequenced without the photographer’s knowledge
  • Photography was also used to advertise
  • Dry plates instead of wet plates made photography quicker
  • Autochrome invention allowed colour images
  • The Kodak handheld camera was created (fixed focus, 100 shots) and was the first standardised consumer item that was mass produced in the US

Evaluation:

There are several useful pieces of information in this section about the history of the printing press and the relationship between photographs and text in the development of reportage. Although photographs were becoming vastly popular, it was still hard to send them quickly enough to keep up with the speed of text. The popularity of photographs became evident in that it was included in advertising; there is a lot of power in the image, especially when it created to visually please. One aspect in particular I really focused on and that was the fact that photographs were manipulated by editors without the photographer’s knowledge, this practice for me is fundamentally wrong as the editor couldn’t have known why the photographer chose to frame the image in the way that he did therefore to change the original would be to change the nature and meaning. This references Martha Rosler and Fred Ritchin in their discussions surrounding the manipulation of the National Geographic image and the act of the photo editor changing the image simply for aesthetic convenience and pleasure. This is an important concept to address in my symposium paper; the authorship and ownership of the photograph in all stages of it’s life cycle.

 

PART FOUR – A New Vision

  • 1920’s industrialisation of photography reached a new level – with expansion of newspaper, photomechanical means of reproducing images and the photo machine/photo booth was patented in 1928
  • Photographic realism was associated with WW1
  • Advertising had begun to explore experimental/conceptual methods
  • Censoring had come into play in WW2 to protect the movement of troops

Evaluation:

One of the most important aspects here for me is the concept of photographic ‘realism’, in the context of photojournalism and war photography it can be characterised as ‘straight photography’. Although most documentary photographers accepted and professed that their photography was subjective, the audience and perhaps the photo editors had started to interpret their imagery as ‘fact’ (which is itself a social construction). Perhaps the audience actually started to put pressure on the image to present a fact, perhaps the audience actually contributed to the construction of ‘straight’ photography. In addition, the fact that photography had become more popular in advertising had introduced the production of images that were meant to provoke people but in an encouraging, tempting fashion. This references the Eli Pariser Ted Talk I watched on the concept of online filter bubbles, where the Internet user becomes continually surrounding by ‘user friendly’ content that has been selected according to the specific activity of the user. Although this is a very recent comparison, it could just be seen as an evolution of the original advertising practice.

 

Chapter Eight – Art and the Age of Mass Media

Photojournalism

  • The term ‘photojournalism’ started to be used when the mass market of illustrated journals developed
  • Illustrated magazines became to be known as ‘photoessays’
  • Many art photographs turned to photojournalism after WW2
  • Life Magazine was founded in 1936
  • Picture Post was founded in 1938
  • Photo editors were the control of the content
  • Images became to be seen as expendable
  • Better analogue technology meant better cameras
  • The public loved ‘candid photography’ – this phrase was created to describe Erich Solomon’s work
  • Rotogravure – technique where images and text could be interspersed effectively/imaginatively
  • Newspapers with in contention with other newspapers and responded by trying to use the most dramatic images
  • Associated Press Wire Photo Division in January 1935 introduced cheaper transmitting systems
  • Artist Raoul Hausman introduced the idea that through the increase of photography, film and sound, an individual begins to perceive and interpret the world differently – this claim is still relevant in the age of the Internet and television

Evaluation:

There was a lot of relevant content in this section, particularly the part where the term ‘photojournalism’ was first introduced. However the understanding I have of photojournalism doesn’t quite correspond, whereas I believe a photojournalist to have some influence on the outcome of their image, in this period the photo editors still made the decisions. The notion of ‘candid’ photography explored heavily references the ‘straight’ photography previously discussed it they both rely on the nature of the image as framing or freezing a moment in time, or the ‘Decisive Moment’ as Cartier Bresson described. Raoul Hausman’s ideology is particular interesting in that the world becomes interpreted as each individual person describes or narrates it, linking to David Campbells ideology in his talk for Phonar.  The idea of narration is a key concept and should be addressed in my symposium paper, as each individual photographer is responsible for their own narration.

 

Chapter Nine – Documentary Expression and Popular Photography

  • 1930’s was the time when the term ‘documentary’ was introduced
  • Early documentary photography could be construed as patronising (not Lewis Hine)
  • Ansel Adams objected to Art and Observation, references them as ‘sociologists with cameras’
  • Farm Security Administration – in 1935 the Resettlement Administration (RA) – aimed to counteract the depression, was renamed in 1937 to FSA
  • Dorothea Lange ‘Migrant Mother’ was a product of the FSA
  • Photographs would be sold to outlets like Time
  • 1940s FSA distributed 1,400 images a month
  • Agency continued until 1942 before being taken over by the Office of War Information
  • Walker Evans was an FSA photographer – his images appeared to be a metaphor for attitudes about life (he went on to work for Fortune Magazine)
  • Dorothea Lange had a sense of social justice and was interested in how photography could contribute to that – Migrant Mother was considered the iconic image of the depression
  • Rothstein used the colour film Kodachrome
  • Although social documentary photography was present in 1930 it didn’t do much for social change

Evaluation:

The FSA is a very important aspect in the history of documentary photography as, evidenced by Dorothea Lange, it produced some of the most iconic images. However the image provoked social change, it didn’t actually benefit the subject directly, raising questions around the exploitation of the subject. Although not misrepresented, she didn’t benefit from the sales of the image at all therefore the photograph didn’t serve any purpose for her. Exploitation is a key concept I want to address in my symposium paper, especially in reference to representation. A point from that section was that documentary photography could be seen as patronising because of the approach taken by photographers, reflective of Barthes’ dynamic, this is something I want to explore in detail.

War and Photography

  • 20th Century: one of the most famous photographers was Robert Capa, however his photo Death of a Loyalist solider came under attack from rumours that the image was staged
  • The issue and evidence is a concept that has been discussed widely since
  • Robert Capa quote “if your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”
  • Life Magazine fought the Government to show images of injured and dead US soldiers even though the images didn’t give them much dignity
  • Joe Rosenthal’s image of the marines raising the flag also came under criticism over thoughts of being staged – Life initially rejected it
  • Lee Millar defied the notion that horrific issues were not for women, photographing the holocaust scenes and sending them with the quote ‘I implore you to believe that this is true’

Evaluation:

The key issue in this section is photographic truth and perhaps what photographic truth the editors of content choose to show to society. Speculations about photographic truth and manipulation have been amplified in digital culture however they have always existed as demonstrated by Capa and Rosenthal’s image where the real issue wasn’t manipulation through editing software but actually a manipulation of the content through the alleged staging. Photographic ‘truth’, exactly what that entails and who should or does have the power over it definitely needs a place in my symposium paper as it is such a prominent issue in photography and photojournalism now.

 

Chapter Eleven – The Cold War Era

Television, Photojournalism and Nation Events

  • TV didn’t surpass newspapers until the 1970s as the public’s major source of information
  • Life Magazine was in decline
  • TV showed images just as newspapers had but instantaneously
  • 1969 came the live television broadcast from the moon
  • The press photograph still had an impact on the public
  • From 1955 – 1975 TV and photography worked together to produce images of conflict and war
  • Life Magazine ran new features like in June 1969 ‘The Faces of The American Dead in Vietnam’ which resembled that of a high school year book
  • Some of the photographs from Vietnam became iconic imagery of a lasting experience such as the Napalm girl – video footage was taken of the same event but it was held back as the image was so effective

Evaluation:

It is clear that in the 20th Century there was both an alliance and conflict between imagery in publications and on the TV. Although it was stated that TV worked with publications there was still the fact that Life Magazine was in decline, which was probably the catalyst for it to try and run new features. Improving digital technology meant that aside from TV, different features were also possible for publications. The effect of digital technology and the new features it has brought about is definitely something I want to explore in my symposium paper.

 

PART SIX – Convergence (1975 to Present)

Photography and The Global Experience

  • Globalisation has seen the infiltration and destruction of untouched cultures
  • Consumerism is the key force behind globalisation
  • Compression of time and space in communication defies old limits
  • Integration and migration has caused cultures to spread an clash at points
  • Diversification is seen everywhere

Evaluation:

Consumerism is the key concept here, it has perhaps taken over digital culture. Information must be presented in a ‘consumable’ package, something that is easy to understand and comprehend and easy to respond to, for example reading a tweet and having a few fixed options like favouriting, retweeting or leaving it. This dynamic I believe is something that is wrong in this culture, we don’t experience things physically, we see it digitally which makes it easy to detach. Content produced in a consumable fashion won’t impact on society and make social change, Fred Ritchin stated the purpose of photography was to be useful in the world therefore photojournalists need to make ‘useful’ challenging content which will provoke.

 

Post Photography

  • Paul Delaroche in 1839 stated ‘from today, painting is dead’
  • In 1935 Susan Butler stated ‘from today, black-and-white is dead’
  • 1990s Nicholas Merzoeff stated ‘photography met it’s own death some time in the 1980s at the hands of computer imaging’
  • Joan Foncuberta ‘the metamorphosis from silver grains to pixels is not itself that significant’
  • Inclusions and Exclusions are just as influential as falsification in the aesthetic – Alexander Rodchenko excluded forced labour from his series of the building of White Canal, this practice is just as deceitful as the reshaping of images
  • ‘Moreover, in a medium that thrives in multiples, a potential taken further by computer replication, important subjects can be hidden in plain sight in the middle of a plethora of distracting pictures’
  • In the Gulf War Time Magazine and AP Photographic refused to publish photographs of Iraqi bodies killed on the ‘highway of death’ – all imagery was of military hardware
  • However images of bodies were published later in reviews when the content itself wasn’t as raw or relevant – is this process as bad as falsification or exclusions?
  • Dystopian Series by Aziz and Cucher, they captured the fear of desensitisation through technology through portraits where sensory aspects had been digitally removed, this worked to replicate that the mind has been cut off from direct perception of the world
  • ‘this idealised world functions on the basis of extreme human isolation, mediated experience, and global consumerism’

Evaluation:

There are lots of relevant case studies and quotes in this paragraph relating to digital culture and the issues and concepts associated with it. There have been claims that photography is dead, black and white is dead, art is now dead now that new technology has been responsible for the demise of older technology. Content is a key issue in the digital culture as I explored previously, there should obviously be filters to protect vulnerable people however where are the parameters of those filters set and who should decide them? The dystopian series particularly interests me however perhaps it isn’t a case study I would include in my actual paper but rather a concept I would revisit in another blog post and in relation to my final major project.

 

Everything Old is New Again

  • Joan Foncuberta identified the term ‘vrai-faux’ (true/false) and associated in with computer generated/enhanced images
  • 1990s Dyan Marie used computer techniques, her swirls referenced Salvador Dali’s melting landscapes and surrealism
  • Jeff Wall is an artist who created ‘Dead Troops Talk’ scene which reminisced ‘Napoleon on the Battlefield at Eylore’ through computer software
  • The Japanese photographer Yasumas Morimure created remakes of famous Playboy images and referenced aspects in the image that would have later been retouched

Evaluation:

Joan Foncuberta’s ‘vrai-faux’ concept is definitely interesting and is something I would open with in a blog post of piece of writing about photographic truth and manipulation. I would definitely consider including it in my symposium paper if there is enough time and space to include it however I am conscious I will need to make some inclusions and exclusions of content to keep in the time frame. Surrealism and digital technology is a relationship that works in the basis that digital technology liberates the user by giving them the capacity to create something that defies the conventional laws of time and space. It would appear that surrealism and digital technology would stand to have more of a compatible relationship than digital technology and realism as there have to be parameters set on the usage of this revolutionary tech.

 

The Predicaments of Social Concern

  • During the 1980s and 1990s documentary photographers and photojournalists worked for newspapers but also did books and exhibitions which weren’t limited by time constraints
  • Late 20th century photographic genres were comparable in style and subject with no term to describe this hybridisation (Salgado insisted that he was a documentarian not an artist)
  •  Vicki Goldberg – ‘some of the most arresting documentary work now leans heavily, even self-consciously, on art and photography’
  • Human Nature is a convoluted and unpredictable blend of dignity and imperfection
  • There was still the idea that a photograph could facilitate social change
  • But in the 1950s social documentarians stopped believing in his idea
  • Robert Frank and Diane Arbus made work that commented on the shallowness of society
  • Chris Killip moved away from social change and took to observing individual cases such as the effect of deindustrialization on society
  • Paul Graham focused on what colour photography brings to documentary
  • After 1990 the world became used to the apparent speed that digital technology brings
  • Eugene Richard’s photographs were stylised particularly to remind the viewer that they have the power in the interpretation of the image
  • Recent photojournalism relies in linguistic context for meaning
  • Susan Meisalas combined history and social science in her books
  • Donna Ferrato used stories and recorded instances of domestic violence and their aftermath as well as using images in her project ‘Living With the Enemy’

Evaluation:

Photojournalism and photography that encourages social change has become just as prominent in an art context because the photographer has the power and time to construct a representation that they believe is not only true but also the most effective visual outcome. However the art environment is heavily associated with surrealism therefore is it the most suitable place for photojournalism? This indicates the lack of appropriate platforms and environments for photojournalists to display and circulate more contextualisation responses other than the reactionary style that is produced for the 24 hour news cycle seen currently in society.

 

The Colour of Concern

  • Susan Meisalas and James Nachtwey were subject to some criticisms because of their use of colour photography, previously black and white photographs were the symbol of seriousness and integrity
  • Phillip Jones Griffiths described colour photographer as ‘the biggest hindrance to photojournalism the world has ever seen’
  • Photographers who used colour photography were often described as adulterating the medium of photography because the colour photograph looked a lot like a painting
  • The beginning of colour photography was also regarded as elitist because of the expense, organisations in the developing world didn’t have the money to spend on colour processes

Evaluation:

Colour photography is an important part of the history of photojournalism however it’s not necessarily a concept I need to include in my symposium paper because it isn’t directly relevant to some of the issues I want to discuss in photojournalism. However it is definitely something I need to keep in mind, for example the iconic imagery we stand by as good photojournalism like the image of the Napalm and Migrant Mother were shot in black and white. Other colour images like the National Geographic cover of the pyramids are surrounded by issues like manipulation and fabrication. Although analogue imagery does have problems of it’s own, so I need to assess every image I come across according to the issues that surround the time period it was shot in.

 

Neutral Vision

  • 1980 and 1990s was when the idea of neutral vision was examined by critics and artists, particularly those involved in conceptualism.
  • Some photographers such as Hulleah Tsinhahjinnie created work to break the conventional stereotypes
  • Boris Mikahailov’s work ‘Case History’ criticised capitalism and the effect on society, it took an extremely distanced stance, casting a cold stare over the subjects
  • Focus – Cambodian Genocide Photographic Database

Evaluation:

The notion of a neutral stance is extremely interesting, it associates with the straight photography and objectivity that formed the perception of the photograph as evidence in photography. Objectivity is an interesting concept that I believe is impossible to take as a human, a truly objective stance could however be taken by an artificial intelligence device. The notion of a photographer casting away their morals and ideology which forms the very fabric of their existence is unlikely, therefore the concept of objectivity itself is unlikely.

 

Chapter Thirteen – The Culture of Critique

The New Social Documentary

  • Walter Benjamin – ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ stated that reproduction can break down the ‘aura’ of an image, as if people see a reproduction they don’t feel the need to see the original
  • ‘The original could vanish in a welter of facsimiles deeply involved/bathed’
  • Rosler, Lonidier and Sekulla were at the core of ‘new documentary’ or ‘new social documentary’ in mid 1980s
  • ‘Victim photography’ was to be avoided
  • Aestheticise – is to depict to be beautiful, pleasing, to represent in an idealised manner
  • Allan Sekula in ‘On the Invention of Photographic Meaning’  stated that the ‘window on the world’ approach was pictorially disrespectful and should be replaced by a more hybridised approach.

Evaluation:

I really want to go away and read Allan Sekulla’s essay if I can find it because I believe it will be beneficial to my symposium paper. I have gone on to read theorists such as Rosler and Walter Benjamin so reading Sekulla will be a good supplement to my research. It was previously addressed in early drafts of my paper that I needed to strengthen my knowledge of photojournalism historically and cultural and Walter Benjamin’s ideology plays a part to this. Benjamin is a theorist that commented on the idea of a mass image culture in history before the real events played out. Another theorist to perhaps to look to compliment or contrast in relation to the mass image culture could be Marshall McLuhan. Mass culture and mass involvement is a prominent part of photojournalism today and is definitely something I will address in my paper.

 

Thinking Photography

  • Roland Barthes – Camera Lucida 1980 described two meanings of the photograph: studium (an intellectual, factual meaning) and punctum (to have an arresting, emotive effect)
  • Barthes – ‘The Photographic Message’ in 1961 explored the ‘denoted/connotated’ meaning of photography, and the photograph is a ‘message without code’
  • Michael Foucalt had similar ideas to Barthes
  • Key ideas from Barthes/Benjamin was ‘the futility of originality’ – images could or can be appreciated and re-exhibited, there is no actual need for more images

Evaluation:

Theorists such as Benjamin and Barthes are extremely important to consider as they were assessing the early practice of photography, however their ideology is extremely relevant today. I had previously known and read about Barthes’ studium/punctum ideology and it is a really important element in photojournalism, usually it is the imagery that provokes a punctum response that makes the social change.

 

The Post Modern Era

  • Media has created a generation gap between those raised on TV and those in the cinema (Douglas Crimp)
  • “Our experience is governed by pictures, pictures in newspapers and magazines, on television and in the cinema” – next to these, the first hand experiences are reduced, photographs have usurped our own interpretation
  • Susan Sontag ‘On Photography’ 1977 – “Image World” concept, where photographs injure human memory, reduces the instinct to get information first hand

Evaluation:

Again this relates back to the mass image culture and Walter Benjamin’s ideas on reproduction and loosing the need to see the original ourselves. Susan Sontag is another important theorist I will be considering in my research for my symposium paper, particularly in relation to representation, as Abigail Solomon Godeau discusses.

 

Post Modernist Photography

  • Richard Prince found his images in source magazines, cut them out, cropped them and used them in advertising
  • Cindy Sherman created images that resembled movie stills

Constructed Realities and the Directional Mode

  • A.D Coleman “directorial mode” talked about the contemporary staged photograph

Evaluation:

Post modernism and constructed realities I feel are interlinked, the elements of post photography revolve around the construction of photographic content in a different nature. This conceptual photography can have a great effect on the medium and can provoke some interesting questions however it is questionable whether this style is suitable for photojournalism where so much of the content is still interpreted by the audience as fact.

 

Chapter Fourteen – Into the Twenty-First Century

  • Defining catastrophe was the 911 attacks
  • The pixel was the influential invention, it made photography available through the smartphone and computers

Evaluation:

Without a doubt the 911 attacks were a statement for modern terrorism, in both what happened and the way it was covered. The 911 attacks were a good example of how citizen journalism can be influential in the coverage of an event, there was countless footage from citizens of all aspects of the attacks. This has been seen in other events such as the Boxing Day Tsunami and the Boston Bombings, where the police was able to create a timeline of the event using footage from CCTV cameras and citizen content. I think I will use the 911 attacks as a case study in my paper as it is extremely relevant and a lot of people know about it and therefore the actual events won’t need explaining expansively.

War and Photography

  • Iraq was the key war in the 21st Century
  • 2004 images from the Abu Gharib prison were revealed in 2004 showing prisoner abuse (the hooded figures became a global symbol, instantly recognised)

Evaluation:

The Abu Gharib case demonstrates the power of social media in the spread of news, the images actually came from the soldiers themselves and were revealed when they shared them with their friends. There have been discussions, particularly in Charlie Beckett’s Supermedia about how effective social media is compared to conventional media and whether it is social media that accounts for more news coverage. The nature of social media suits the mass image culture as it is instantaneous; where conventional media informs, social media is to share and this appeals to the masses. Perhaps social media is the future of photojournalism?

 

Screens

  • Dominant mass medium in the 1960s
  • With a screen comes storage, a hard drive and the cloud
  • Transmission and storage of content can be dangerous as demonstrated for the soldiers in the Abu Gharib
  • Digital technology facilitates images

Evaluation:

The notion of transmission and storage is interesting in this section, for digital images are just information that can be sent, stored or visually displayed on a screen. It is very easy to reproduce a digital image and then make copies of that copy, therefore digital images are quite unpredictable and hard to track and contain. Analogue images in contrast could be considered as more concrete and harder to reproduce on a large scale, in addition there is always an original which is the one that has come from the negative. I think I need an analogue/digital comparison in my symposium paper to outline some of the advantages and flaws with each mode of image making.

 

The Medium of the Movement

  • Phyllis Tuchman ‘photography rules right now’
  • 1993 Time manipulation and construction of a face with characteristics of all cultures – the aesthetic itself wasn’t that challenging but the notion behind it was bold and could have been upsetting
  • The word Photoshop has now become a verb
  • Cinema and movie making has now become the inspiration for a lot of photographers

Evaluation:

Manipulation is a present part of photographic culture now, as evidenced by the fact that the term Photoshop is now considered a verb. The capability of manipulation and retouching is amazing and shouldn’t be banned or restricted in the genre of conceptual photography however manipulation in photojournalism is a more complex business that needs to be examined. Therefore I will include a piece on manipulation in my paper as I believe it is a prominent part of photojournalism that needs addressing and the issues associated with it.

 

Screens and Platforms

  • Look Look Magazine gave cameras to teenagers and hired them to take photographs
  • Digital cameras/camera phones/social media encouraged people to keep ‘visual diaries’
  • Subjective approach ‘diaristic photography’ – a visual metaphor to convey inner feelings, communicating the emotion of an idea which the viewer then inserts their own experiences to relate
  • Smart phone has encouraged the self portrait and citizen journalism

Evaluation:

The concept of ‘diaristic photography’, these raw thoughts of the image maker is a very interesting one. This would constitute as truly subjective as they are images fuelled by emotion and created instantaneously to share with the world. This mode of image-making is without a doubt what has formed the mass image culture; the rise of the self portrait and the capacity to share it through social media. As addressed before this is definitely a concept I will include in my symposium, affordable camera technology and social media has enabled the citizen to participant in the coverage of news in a way that was previously impossible.

 

SUMMARY

Overall this book has been extremely useful to me as it has not only provided me with some great facts and quotes about the history of photojournalism and the current dynamic, but it has also signposted me to other theorists like Sekulla, Barthes, Benjamin and Rosler. I have been drawn to some important key concepts within photojournalism such as manipulation, representation and citizen participation, all of which I plan to include in my paper. This book has been a great starting point to now move on and consider what theorists and case studies I will include in my paper and actually how much history I need to include in it for the audience.

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