After reading Gareth Dent’s article ‘Dealing with the flood’, here are my thoughts and reflections on the issue of the prevalence of photographic images today. The article includes a link to Alec Sloth discussing ‘The Current State of the PhotoBook’. If I’m honest I wasn’t aware there was such a phenomenon around Photo Books in the art world, I thought Photo Books were the realm of family albums or just people collating images of their lives. It was interesting also reading the article to be introduced to some photographers who are handling the ‘flood’ in different ways.
I particularly enjoyed finding out more about Mishka Henner’s Work.
Reflecting on my personal use of photography within social media and other contexts:
This feels like a strange but somewhat healthy spot of reflection on my own interaction with social media and photography. I suppose my history with social media is varied. When I first started using Facebook it was for my own personal use, I think I was maybe 17, looking back on photographs from the first few years they were mainly social. I took photo’s of myself, out with friends, at social gatherings. As I’ve grown older I’ve grown more conscious of what I chose to put up in photograph form (and written form) on Facebook. I rarely put photographs of myself or other up on Facebook now and when I do I like to use it to make a conscious message or point, or to record a particular moment or event.
Reflecting on other uses, whilst I use Facebook less, I use Instagram more. Most of the photographs I take on Instagram are with an agenda, I use it as a platform for recording or keeping track of drawings done in sketchbooks or for personal challenges, these feed directly from instagram to my blog section, Sketchbook. I also take photos of printing for my business and occasional lifestyle documentation. So I guess this all comes under more commercial purposes?! Some of these photo’s could be described as Artistic, I take time considering and arranging the shots, especially for products for Sale in my Etsy shop.
Are you contributing to the ‘flood’ and is this a good or bad thing?
In terms of how I interact with or contribute to the ‘flood’ of images, I guess I am adding to the flood by contributing my own photographs. But I’d like to think this isn’t just mindless, I guess you could say I carefully curate the photographs I take on social platforms. I don’t take photo’s with my phone, I deliberately use a camera (I use a Cannon 500D, borrowed from my mum-in-law). I think a camera gives better quality photographs and this important particularly as a business.
Is this good or bad? I guess that’s subjective, I try to take the best photographs I can take within my own understanding and ability (which is hopefully improving), so guess that’s good. But maybe I am just another person adding to the noise level in visual communication! I guess we do still have some control over what we chose to engage with. I decide whose photos I follow or see in my Instagram, likewise other people have a choice to ignore the photos I take.
Does social media democratise or devalue photography?
This seems like quite a complex question and I’m not sure I’m in the best position to answer it. But I have a few thoughts. Firstly I wonder can it be both, social media seems to have made photography available to a broader range of people, anyone with a camera on their phone could technically produce photographs. But the quality of these photographs is perhaps the thing most under attack here – if people literally care nothing for, and refuse to consider how/what/why they are taking a photograph I think it shows.