Posts Tagged ‘discussion’
Have you ever wondered whether hall of fame athletes from decades ago would still find success if the played their sports today? How about the same question, but applied to photographers? Would the historical greats of photography be brilliant across all ages, or were they simply pioneers and ahead of the curve in their generation? If they were just starting out today, which of the famous photographers throughout history do you think would still become renowned in the present day, and which wouldn’t?
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.
In April of last year, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art held a two day summit on the topic of “Is Photography Over?“. The panel discussions from the summit featured some pretty notable names from the industry, and generated quite a bit of discussion once they were shared online. In response, Conscientious editor Jörg Colberg made this humorous tongue-in-cheek video introducing a new color coded threat level advisory system as a quick and easy way of staying up to date with how over photography is.
The rise of microstock and the fact that anyone with a camera can sell cheap photos has done a lot to devalue stock photography, but is the same thing happening to the photojournalism industry? Paul Melcher says that the industry is headed in that direction:
Forget the photo agency as an agent of talented photojournalists. The key now is to have a lot of contributors worldwide and hope that one will be at the right place at the right time. With photographers everywhere chances you will get the right image at the right time will increase, like buying a lot of lottery tickets.
In the film age, the cost of film, processing, shipment was too prohibitive. Now, you can receive and store million of images for a buck or two.
[...] Thus, taking a queue from the microstock model, photojournalism is now switching to the volume based model. While profitable for a photo agency, it is devastating for photojournalism and photographers themselves.
The story is the same: as technology makes photography and the distribution of photographs easier to do, the buyers of photographs win and the producers of photographs lose.
If a stranger suddenly grabs your camera and takes a photograph, who owns the copyright to that photograph? Photographer Mirjam Letsch writes,
Walking in an Indian bazaar, my Nikon dangling on my shoulder, this boy quickly clicked five times. I really liked the creative result when I later saw these images! Don’t know who owns the copyright though!
This might seem like a pretty farfetched example, but what about a case where you carefully set up and compose a fine art photograph, then for some reason ask a stranger to press the shutter for you?
The debate over David LaChapelle copyright infringement lawsuit against Rhianna rages on — lawyer John William Nelson has written an article on why copyright should extend only to the literal copying of a photograph and not the elements within the photo:
A photograph is a mechanical representation of facts. This is unlike a painting, which is a non-mechanical representation of something—be it facts, such as an attempt to paint an outdoor scene or create a portrait of someone, or imagination in the form of how the artist sees the world, such as the Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night painting. Paintings, therefore, are pure expressions of ideas or facts. Photographs, however, are mechanical expressions of facts.
[...] extending copyright protection beyond the mechanical copying of a photograph (i.e., scanning it and sending it to all your friends) is extending copyrights in photographs too far. The expression of a photograph cannot be separated from its factual reproduction of actual events. Attempting to do so leads to absurd results.
Therefore, a bright-line rule should reserve copyright protection in photographs only for the reproduction of those photographs. Copyright protection should not extend to the elements within the photographs themselves—doing so results in copyrighting facts, which is beyond the scope of copyright law.
It’s a pretty length piece, but well worth a read. What’s your opinion on this issue? Should the elements within a photograph be covered by copyright protection?
The debate regarding what makes a photograph “truthful” or not is probably as old as the art of photography itself. By sheer coincidence, there were a couple interesting articles published today on this issue, and written from two different points-of-view.
As technology improves, features that were once limited to expensive professional models often become available to the masses, but will this ever be true for full-frame sensors? Nikon’s Senior VP David Lee was recently asked this question in an interview with TWICE, and here’s what he said:
I think that there are definitely two different approaches here. What we’re seeing is that sensor performance continues to improve, but obviously there’s really a need for bulk because with a full-size sensor there’s a real low-light performance benefit, high speed performance, framing rates, and so on and so forth. So, I think you’ll definitely continue to see the higher-end pro consumer continue to have that large format. It’s definitely needed in the D3 and D700. You’ll see that technology continue to improve and grow, but the DX sensor form factor is also important. The compactness of the D3100 and D5100 is very popular. I don’t think one approach will ever overtake the other because of the overall image capabilities and the light performance capabilities.
Seems like he either misunderstood the question, or decided to beat around the bush. It’s an interesting question though — will any of the big manufacturers shake up the industry by being the first to put a full-frame sensor in a consumer-level camera? The sensors have already jumped from pro-level cameras to prosumer-level ones starting in 2005 with the Canon 5D, so it seems like the next logical step will be the consumer level. A sub-$1000 full-frame camera. Now that’s a thought.
Here’s an update to the whole monkey copyright story that’s been swirling around the blogosphere as of late: TechDirt points out that works that aren’t the product of human authorship cannot support a copyright claim. Section 503.03 of Compendium II of Copyright Office Practices published by the US Copyright Office reads:
503.03 Works not capable of supporting a copyright claim.
Claims to copyright in the following works cannot be registered in the Copyright Office:
503.03(a) Works-not originated by a human author.
In order to be entitled to copyright registration, a work must be the product of human authorship. Works produced by mechanical processes or random selection without any contribution by a human author are not registrable. Thus, a linoleum floor covering featuring a multicolored pebble design which was produced by a mechanical process in unrepeatable, random patterns, is not registrable. Similarly, a work owing its form to the forces of nature and lacking human authorship is not registrable; thus, for example, a piece of driftwood even if polished and mounted is not registrable.
Is a photograph taken by a monkey the product of human authorship? On one hand, the monkey pressed the shutter, but you also can’t argue that a human author didn’t contribute, since they had to have provided the camera in the first place (unless the monkey stole it or something…). TechDirt believes the photos are in the public domain.