Everyone is a photographer these days, and it is estimated that 380 billion photographs were taken last year, with a huge percentage of them created with the 1 billion+ camera-equipped phones now floating around. The New York Times’ James Estrin has some interesting thoughts on where this radical-shift in the practice and definition of photography is taking us:
Just as access to pens and paper hasn’t produced thousands of Shakespeares or Nabokovs, this explosion of camera phones doesn’t seem to have led to more Dorothea Langes or Henri Cartier-Bressons. But it has certainly led to many more images of what people ate at lunch.
[...] A photograph is no longer predominantly a way of keeping a treasured family memory or even of learning about places or people that we would otherwise not encounter. It is now mainly a chintzy currency in a social interaction and a way of gazing even further into one’s navel.
He thinks the strengthening torrent of digital images will have one of two possible effects: a culture that is more aware and appreciative of photography, or a society in which it’s impossible for any photo to rise above the flood of images.
Scott Lamb of BuzzFeed created this exceptionally moving video that asks the question, “what makes a great photograph great?” Lamb’s voice narrates a slideshow of some of the most powerful photographs captured throughout history — photographs that capture life, love, death, sacrifice, joy, and suffering. Captions accompany the images, so we recommend watching the video twice and pausing on each photo to make sure you catch all of them (otherwise it may be hard to know what’s actually happening).
Brooklyn-based photographer Henry Hargreaves teamed up with food stylist Caitlin Levin on his project “Deep Fried Gadgets”, which — as its name indicates — shows various electronics deep fried. The purpose of the project is to highlight the wastefulness of consumer culture and its rapid consumption of the latest gadgets. Read more…
For his project titled Maet (“Full”), photographer Per Johansen shot still life images of various foods packed tightly into plastic bottles. His aim is to draw attention to the issues of gluttony, greed, and consumerism. Read more…
Choices is a Warhol-esque (or Gursky-esque) project by photographer Richard Stultz, who visited various stores to document the mind-numbingly large number of choices consumers are faced while shopping. He states,
When we shop, we are presented with aisles of thousands of different products. There are shelves with an endless variety of similar items, often just a variation on the ones next to them. Other shelves display large quantities of identical products. We may find 50 types of beer, hundreds of jars of bleach, or graphic displays of soap. There are cans of dog food with descriptions that sound as appetizing as anything we might cook for ourselves. There are so many shades of hair coloring that we can’t distinguish between many of them.
Beyond the astounding quantity and selection, retail displays are often visually interesting with striking design elements, color, and repetitive patterns. But as we shop and try to find the perfect product, we often don’t see the perverse beauty of these choices.
Photo-sharing site Pinterest, the new darling of social media, has a copyright infringement cloud hanging over its head. The fact that anyone can upload and share copyrighted photographs through the site has prompted many sites — most notably Flickr — to ban “pinning” for copyrighted works. Up to this point, Pinterest has tried to avoid legal trouble by having a Terms of Service that places all the blame for copyright infringement on its users, but a new solution may be on the horizon: mandatory captions. Requiring users to comment on pinned photos may cause the sharing to be protected under “fair use” because it becomes the subject of “commentary”.
Filmmaking brothers John and Richard Ramsey came up with the brilliant and hilarious idea of unearthing some old home videos and adding directors commentary over them. It’s a great way to have a laugh with family members, and could make a fun present. Read more…
The children, aged four to nine, are shameless posing while enjoying their cigarette or cigarillo. So why kids? By portraying adults as children all the attention went to the smoking. An adult would draw to much attention to the portrayed person. Thus these portraits evoke question such as: is the smoking ban the right way to get rid of an absurd addiction and are smokers treated like little kids who can’t make the difference between good and bad? While Frieke doesn’t give answers, the portraits are strong enough to start your thinking process!
Although photographs have become quite controversial, it may comfort you to know that none of the children were exposed to actual cigarette smoke through the photo shoots — the cigarettes were actually made of cheese! Read more…
Here’s a terrific 20-minute video that features Henri Cartier-Bresson — the father of modern photojournalism — talking about his views on photography and a selection of his amazing photographs. It’s both educational and inspiring.
The decisive moment, it is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organization of forms which gives that event its proper expression.
– Henri Cartier-Bresson
If only there was one of these videos for every famous historical photographer!