Reflections on Week 4

During the week’s presentations, we were posed with a number of questions relating to the topic of “rethinking photographers”:

How do you think popular representations of photographers contribute to perceived social and cultural values of the profession?

The worst popular representation of photographers that I can think of is that of a paparazzi photographer who in some extreme cases with stop at nothing to get a photograph which sadly played a significant role in Princess Diana’s death and did a huge amount of damage to the public’s perception of the social values of the profession.

Do you have a favourite, or least favourite, movie about a photographer? What does this film say about the medium and the practitioners?

Whilst not about a famous photographer, I really enjoyed the Brazilian film “City of God” which was portrayed through the eyes of a young lad (Rocket) from the favelas who liked photography and was documenting unique images of the goings on in the favelas that were difficult for any other person to get given the dangers for outsiders. I think I just like this film because it demonstrates how accessible photography has become which I have said before is a good thing as it should not be something only enjoyed by those of better means.

I have a large list of films on photography and photographers that I posted in my blog during week 2. I have yet to get to this due to other priorities on the course but I can’t wait to get stuck into a few of those!

In relation to you own practice and professional activity:

  • what is the impact of ever changing technology?
  • what challenges has this presented you with?
  • how have you embraced (or rejected) changing technology in your own practice?
  • how do you think the way that cameras are marketed affects people’s perception of the value of professional photography?

As a photographer that likes documentary photography on the streets, I have to say that the impact of ever changing technology has been fantastic. The quality of the smaller cameras available now is excellent with great mirrorless options now and also superb mobile phone cameras these days which enable so many more opportunities to photograph. I work with a Canon 5D Mark II and it is a great camera but I also invested in a Fuji XT1 a couple of years ago and I haven’t regretted it in the slightest. Superb for out and about on the streets. All that being said, I am slightly sad that I didn’t get to fully explore photography in the film days and one day I would like to experiment with film also. Perhaps a project during the holidays at Christmas.

The biggest challenge is keeping up with the latest innovations. I don’t think we all need the latest and greatest camera models (I can’t see me changing my two for some time except for perhaps dabbling with a hired medium/large format) but there are many changes in technology for post production which is as important aspect of any photographers workflow. This is something that I haven’t focused on a huge amount to date but an area that I want to improve upon dramatically during this course. Lynda.com is going to become a very important tool for me.

As for the marketing of new cameras and equipment – it does my head in! You don’t need the latest cameras to make great photos. “All the gear and no idea” springs to mind here. I would much rather invest in a book, a course or my time assisting and learning the ropes from experts in their field. I went to a photography event recently in the UAE and I was so disappointed that there were so many photography retailer stands and not one book for sale. I think that some people expect that a professional photographer will always have the latest technology. In addition, some of the marketing techniques used imply that the latest technology will guarantee a good photograph and so sadly devalue the hard work of the professional photographer.

“A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.” Edward Steichen

 

 

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