State of the Art: Is Photography Over?

Here are the recordings of all the “Is Photography Over?” panel sessions hosted by SFMOMA that we referred to earlier today:

Photography has almost always been in crisis. In the beginning, the terms of this crisis were cast as dichotomies: is photography science or art? Nature or technology? Representation or truth? This questioning has intensified and become more complicated over the intervening years. At times, the issues have required a profound rethinking of what photography is, does, and means. This is one of those times. Given the nature of contemporary art practice, the condition of visual culture, the advent of new technologies, and many other factors, what is at stake today in seeing something as a photograph? What is the value of continuing to speak of photography as a specific practice or discipline? Is photography over? [#]

The videos run a total of 5 hours altogether, so you’ll need to set aside a good amount of time to chew through the talks. You can also find transcripts of the sessions and more information about the experts here.

  • Ka Ho Karl

    Thanks Michael :)

  • Michael Zhang


  • Dmitri

    Problem with photography as an art form is noise. With the amount of equipment available to take pictures (all kinds of cheap and expensive cameras, cellphones, etc.) there is just too much to choose from. I think we are approaching a state where we take more pictures that we see. We are over-producing the content and are being lost in our own mess of disorganized media.

    What makes it worse is the fact that luck plays a huge role in the end result; i.e. loss of necessity in skill. Consider this, a photo snapped on a cellphone, by a chance could be of such a great value that it could amaze crowds of millions, even though it took zero effort. Versus a photo that cost many thousands of dollars in travel and equipment, sweat and tears gets shelved away.

    I am a believer that things that take more effort and hard work will stay more prominent. Even though a lot of success could be accidental, it usually fades away just as fast as it arrived. That being said, it is now way too easy to snap a photo for an average guy. That is why the value is being lost.


  • Salz

    For me photography is neither art nor science. It’s a kind of craft. 
    wikipedia: “A craft is a branch of profession that requires some particular kind of skilled work”
    Yea! That’s it. 

  • Cryptic2u

    thanks a lot for posting! fascinating and somewhat disgusting at the same time! awesome :)

  • Cryptic2u

    thanks a lot for posting! fascinating and somewhat disgusting at the same time! awesome :)

  • Tony M

    Dmitri, I’m sorry but have to take issue with the comment “it is now way too easy to snap a photo for an average guy. That is why the value is being lost”

    Quality photography is, and always will be, quality art.

    The explosion in photography resulting from digital and cameraphones, in my mind, is a good parallel to the boom in interest caused by Box Brownies. How can more people being interested in our hobby/art/passion/expression be a bad thing? More interest will drive diversity of expression and perspective, and for those people with the voice/ability to express it, more challenging and beautiful art.

    Totally accept that it is probably a tough environment for working photographers given the increase in stock photography, and a tough one for journalists given the acceptance of  “citizen journalists” but fine art photography is as far removed from this as my aimless doodles are from The Last Supper



  • Gnostic

    HAHAHA…you people talk about noone really other than LONG DEAD Photographers…..if all you have to talk about are Photographers that have been dead for thirty years…what does that say about Photography. Also…you people are out-of-touch snobs…trust me.

  • Gnostic

    This is sooo painful to listen to….what I see here are self-described experts that can talk for an hour and not say one damned thing. Arggghhh….are there ANY photographers on these panels …all I see are lazy gallery moles….