Thursday, 22 March 2012

we're all hypocrites...

As I seem to have somewhat of a hiatus in regards to the amount shoots I am doing at the moment, I find myself thinking more and more about, well, nothing in particular, but everything at the same time. For example, just two days ago I appeared to have a Platonist discussion with myself about whether photography really should be as objective as everyone says it does. Sure, in journalistic photography, putting a truth-less spin on an image - specifically with the use of misleading captions - is pretty much like putting a gun to your head and saying goodbye to your credibility (note the uproar regarding the misleading caption TIME set against the portrait of Afghan woman Bibi Aisha, discussed quite elloquently here by photographer  David Campbell). 

But - and this is a big but given that I appear to be going through some sort of philosophical epoch - I see photography as being a very personal medium. As photojournalists especially, but this can apply to all walks of the medium, we photograph the way we see things, surely? I do. Of course, without the subjects being there, doing what they are doing, there would be nothing to photograph; as Salgado said: "The subjects make the picture, not the photographer"... at least I think he did. Anyway. Ultimately it is the person holding the camera who decides how to photograph the situation and, whether they like it or not, the resulting image must, in some minute way, be influenced by the way they feel about said situation. Take, for example, pretty much the entirety of Martin Parr's work. No matter how much he says that he was merely documenting what he saw and not shooting to criticise or judge, one cannot look at the images and believe that there was not at least a glimmer of judgement involved - otherwise he wouldn't have photographed such subjects as pasty Englishmen on a beach burning there bald heads. There must have been a time whilst shooting the content for, say, The Last Resort when he saw a fat bloke with a bacon sandwich in his hand and thought "Yeah, he looks stereotypical enough". I'm not quite sure where I am going with this subject so I will leave it there. Like I said, it was just a thought.

What I really wanted to talk about in this post was concerning the recent rant I had about a few aspects of photography which get on my wick, namely 'over-networking' and hypocritical exhibits. Now, I met quite a bit of opposition from a couple of people who read the post, and I admit I may have been a tad brash in a few of my statements - being unable to sleep and a throat infection does nothing for my mood - but I still stand firm in my most basic of points. One of said points was that I believe too much time is spent networking (I will use this term instead of 'ass-kissing' from now on). After splattering my blog over Facebook and Twitter I got varied responses, some agreed, some disagreed, and some were indifferent. One person who took particular interest was Holly Hayward, who decided to construct a far more level-headed approach to the argument. I tip my hat to her. She too agreed on "The apparent need for photographers to be accepted and ‘liked’ by other industry members". But as I sat back and watched the discussions flow on both social networking sights, I realised that in writing what I did about 'over-networking', I too was in fact networking, in some small way, myself. After just a few hours my blog post had worked its way around the Press & Editorial Photography's Facebook page; a few family members and friends picked up on it after I posted it on my homepage. From there, my course tutor picked it up as well as my second year mentor Jon Brownhill. Jon subsequently posted it on his Twitter page with the caption "Some more thoughts of a young photographer, probably soon to be followed by my own". Once on Twitter the post was viewed by a couple more second years as well as the second year's main tutor Tom Ingate, who commented "Some interesting points that need discussing". Before I knew it my post had nearly 100 views in just one day and my name was known by a few more photographers, however local to Falmouth.

My point is, if there is any point to this post, I'm not quite sure, that we are constantly networking ourselves by maintaining blogs and websites such as my own. As David White said on his particularly well-known blog Duckrabbit: "You are the mainstream media. You and your friends, and your friends friends. You’re the wires and you are the electricity along which the message travels, and if you want to be, you can even be the message too.". Obviously there will always be the need for physical networking (not too much, mind), but it is an interesting thought nonetheless (my life seems to be full of 'interesting thoughts'). 

Before signing off and posting this blog on to Facebook and Twitter once again, thus advancing my mediocre rise to global photographic domination, I would like to refer back to Holly's post again, in which she pointed out how, to paraphrase, there is too much time spent worrying whether a subject has been 'done before'. As she put it: "if we want to raise awareness, then surely that can only be positive?". I must admit I have had such incriminating thoughts about the project I am doing with the homeless of Newquay at the moment, but upon reading what Holly wrote I decided this: Haters gonna hate. The same can be said about a few of the negative reactions I received from my original rant. 

I'm pretty sure none of this makes sense.



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