So I keep ranting on about the ‘craft’ of photography, and that it’s important.
The combination of Creativity, Skill and most importantly the idea of a Contextual Presentation.
And well, you would have thought that it’s obvious. It’s not new, and why the heck am I talking about it. Well I’m what lecturers over at Coventry University, UK like to call a ‘Digital Native’, meaning that I’ve grown up not knowing life without technological advances like a mobile phone without what looks to be a car battery, I refer you to an old Guardian article ‘From Bricks to the iPhone’, or the connectivity of the internet. I’ve grown as a photographic practitioner this idea of publishing on the net. It was only a handful of years ago that I was getting frustrated with Flickr and how it presented it’s images. But as I explored options within photography, I discovered what came before digital; and well this is how resurgences happen, and now there’s an entire generation that are fixated on creating something physical, because all they’ve seen are fluid pixels; even if the end result is a poorly made photo-book or self-published amateur production.
In many cases it ends up the medium it’s on is the only thing that matters to them
Many people are talking about this as well, and well this is where I think this argument as well as the latter coincide.
‘Craft’ is a key, a skill to practice in it’s own right, knowledge to learn in it’s own right and experience to gain in it’s own right. Craft is the idea of being creative with your work, being able to produce a final result to the best of your ability, but then present it as best possible. You wouldn’t hold onto the negatives of a war zone for 3 months whilst you wait to get them developed, printed, proofed and published in a newspaper in an age where anyone with a smart phone can publish to social media in seconds. But then you wouldn’t publish fine art using a smart phone into Instagram, applying all the post-process you can (Unless that was part of an underlying message). We as practitioners in photography or any creative process create pieces which want to be shown as best as possible; yet people are still producing images and just simply uploading to pre-subscribed ideas of Instagram or Facebook, because that’s what they think gains them better recognition or a wider audience. It does to a degree, but would you value 100 audience views that each only took a split second to look? or 10 that took 10 times longer to soak in the work.
This is what the digital era has created, an audience with a fleeting attention span; a popularity contest. The understanding I have is that something needs to capture the audience in the right way to gain their attention, but then the subject and message are easiest to be portrayed through the right medium for the work. These days we’re talking about Multi-Media within Press and it’s brilliant that people are understanding that to convey the sense of atmosphere and tension within the headline countries; in recent news Ukraine, Syria, Egypt to name a couple, they’re looking to multi-media to tell a narrative. The moving image coupled with sound allow for the audience to be encapsulated by the work in which no other medium can. Publishing such images within a photo-book wouldn’t make sense, unless you took it like Tim Hetherington did with the book Infidel which features his famous Sleeping Soldiers.
Absolutely brilliant book, incredibly personal
He produced work that people are still talking about, and will continue to for years, because until his death in 2011 he produced work that was incredibly thoughtful at every process. Not only did he produce this book, but also this video at the same time:
It’s titled “Single Screen” because it’s original production instalment had three synchronised screens which the same video was played across, but some screens were blackened whilst some played (It makes sense if you ever see the original).
I believe that we’ll continue to talk about his work because he had an innate understanding about how to capture and present creative bodies of work. This is always relevant, but the way he did, and importantly when remains important because it was the beginning of people questioning photography’s value, instead of it’s validity this time.
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