Before I begin with an observation of a photo that emerged from yesterday’s horrific bombings, I’d like to first take a moment to acknowledge the insignificance of my thoughts vis a vis the tragedy that has unfolded. There have been many great pieces that have already emerged in the first 24 hours like this one from Bruce Schneier of The Atlantic. That said, I blog about salient issues in photography, and there is no better time to discuss an issue than when it is in our collective consciousness.
Sometime around the turn of the twentieth century, my great grandfather started a printing and publishing business in Philadelphia, which, for many, many years was one of the finest and most successful letterpress shops in that city. Nearly every male descendant of Charles Jefferson Armor, including my great uncle, my grandfather, and my father, worked there for most if not all of their lives.
I recall with great fondness the occasional Saturday mornings when I would accompany my dad into work, stopping first at the Horn and Hardart automat at 8th and Market St. for cream donuts and hot chocolate. Incidentally, and an interesting tangent to my story here, H&H (as it was known for nearly a century) closed its doors in Philly forever in the late 70‘s. It was another victim of the fast food craze being led by more ubiquitous, lower cost chains like McDonald’s, whose shiny new franchise quickly occupied the automat’s former space at 8th and Market.
“One should still try and get as close as possible to what you want in the initial click.”
A friend of a friend just pointed this out in a conversation we were all having on Facebook. It’s prompted me to say something. To explain what “getting it right in the camera” means to me now, and what it meant to me in the old days.
On April 8, 2011, Senator Jon Kyl was quoted on the Senate floor as saying, “If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood, and that’s well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.”
This is not a post about abortion or Planned Parenthood. This is a discussion about veracity and why it matters in photojournalism. In fact, about 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortion-related. When Sen. Kyl was confronted with the facts, his office responded with “his remark was not intended to be a factual statement.”
This is an incredible photo. The range of emotions expressed (anger, grief, despair), the position of the people and bodies, and proximity of the photographer to the subject make it an incredible moment in time. And because of these elements, this photo was deservedly named the World Press Photo of the Year.
It also looks like an illustration.
In late 2012, Photoshelter surveyed around 5,000 photographers to find out the industries outlook on 2013. Some of the findings were pretty interesting.
The chart above shows the top challenges the photographers think they’ll face in 2013. Only 10% of those who responded were worried about gear-related issues. People don’t seem to be having a hard time finding the right equipment to use for their shoots — it’s the business-side of the photography business that’s weighing photogs down.
Since the moment I walked into Milford Photo looking to buy a professional camera in the winter of 2011, I have been exposed to constant judgment for being a rich, stupid and spoiled 13-year-old who wanted an expensive camera to take “artsy” pictures that I didn’t know how to take.
Contrary to society’s beliefs, I do not fit into that stereotype in any way, shape or form. Unfortunately, I am associated with this stereotype because that is the view society chooses to observe and overplay.
What is street photography? The question is controversial, that’s for sure. The first problem arises when trying to define it. According to Wikipedia:
Street photography is a type of photography that features subjects in candid situations within public places such as streets, parks, beaches, malls, political conventions and other settings.
This seems to be something everyone can agree on… but it’s incomplete; it’s ambiguous. What, then, makes street photography different from simple candid photography or voyeurism?
Photojournalist Kenneth Jarecke wrote up a thought-provoking piece yesterday titled, “Instagram, the Devil, and You.” He offers his thoughts on the question, “Will ‘Instagram photojournalism’ stand the test of time?”:
As for you Instagramers, twenty years from now you’ll be sorry. You’ll be more sorry than I am when I look back on a picture I made twenty years ago with a 20mm lens when I should have used a 28mm. Years from now, you’ll awake in the middle of the night and suddenly realize putting a fake border on a picture makes the whole picture fake. You’ll understand that the technical choices you made destroyed the longterm credibility of both you and your images.
Instead of having a body of work to look back on, you’ll have a sad little collection of noisy digital files that were disposable when you made them, instantly forgotten by your followers (after they gave you a thumbs up), and now totally worthless. You’ll wish you’d have made those images on a Pentax K1000 and Tri-X (at the very least or most depending on your age and perspective), but the times you failed to record properly will be long gone. But don’t listen to me, listen to all your Insta-friends. They love you.
Instagram, the Devil, and You [Mostly True via The Click]
Image credit: Part of an art project involving tiny pics of my art — using #instagram as one part of the medium. by kimboburly
Recently, a friend and photographer Ben Jacobsen of Ben Jacobsen Photo got his work into a third gallery. One of the gallery owners asked him “Is your work Photoshopped?” This is also a popular question often asked at Art Fairs and Photography exhibits. Why is this question relevant to some viewers? If you are asking this, do you know what Photoshopping means? Better yet, What does that word mean to you, and what is it that you are asking?