Does digital photography change how we see photography?
This is a really interesting question and one that cannot be answered with a yes or a no, even though the question leads us to use either of the two words. My first thought and that of other people I have asked this question to is YES, but is that the case.
In order to answer this fully we have to look at the earliest photographs.
One point about the earliest photography we need to consider is the long shutter speeds that were given to the earliest images. Street scenes would potentially lose people, moving rapidly our of shot as in this example They would be erased with the camera’s in-built clone tool i.e. its’ slow shutter speed . How many people are in the image really? How many would have been visible at 1/125 shutter speed? Is this a true representation? Does it class as manipulation and is it a naturally early “photoshopped” image.
Image taken from Wikipedia (Not known) Street photography, Available at: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d3/Boulevard_du_Temple_by_Daguerre.jpg(Accessed: 30/03/2017).
Digital technology certainly makes manipulation easier and its’ applications are way beyond the slow shutter speeds of Daguerre’s age.
Definition of truth (taken from Merriam-Webster, Incorporated (2017) Truth, Available at: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/truth (Accessed: 30/03/2017).) ; –
- the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality
- sincerity in action, character, and utterance
- the state of being the case
- the body of real things, events, and facts
I feel that the term “photoshopped” is now so commonly used, even by my own children and its’ understanding are such they people now feel all photographs are manipulated. This can be evidenced by the selfie craze that has swept through social media, where ,most photos are filtered and altered prior to their sharing. This is much so that certain campaigns have been launched with many people deciding to show real/truthful images just to show people are not perfect.
Into this argument the photographer also needs to take centre stage. What I mean by thesis their position, both real and political, my affect the truth in an image that is unaltered. In the early days of photography, most portraits were staged, with props added so the images mirrored the classic paintings. Therefore this detracts somewhat from the reality or truth of an image.
Can the truth really be seen. Are there any neutral photographs out there? Every image was taken or set up by someone with a purpose in mind and their representation of the truth from one angle may be different to another observer of the same vent from a different angle or time.
The black and white medium was seen as truth in photography as was photography in its’ origin and myself and other artists have converted to black and white to show the truth. But this is in itself a manipulation and therefore a dilution of the truth as our sensors now record in colour. Black and white film would be closer to the truth than a desaturated image from a modern digital camera.
Montages were common place prior to digitization and double exposures were common once this was invented and the Victorian were great exponents of this as in this image below.
Image taken from Jeff (2014) Oh, by the way, Available at: http://ohbythewayblog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/victorian-ghost-photography.html(Accessed: 30/03/2017).
This muslim lady was slammed for not caring after the terror attack in London March 2017. This was a disgusting racist slur on her, but it does show how photographs can give you different truths!
Please see the image below this one that gives this image balance. The images show the power of photography and show how truth can be used. This will also be depending on the context and the narrative people want to tell. Neither image from my understanding have been manipulated, other than via a crop, but even a crop can alter the meaning.
I feel so sorry for this lady as she has received so much abuse, due to photography mixed with political feelings, racism and pure ignorance.
Images taken from The Sun (2017) SHE WAS HORRIFIED, Available at: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3168904/london-terror-attack-photo-muslim-woman-trolled-truth/ (Accessed: 30/03/2017).
Every photograph is taken from one point of view, but there other points of view that need taking into account. The whole truth cannot be told by a single image, even if un-manipulated as there have been personal decision made about, things such as what, why, when, how where who. These will all have a baring on the narrative and the context given to each image will affect how it is read.
There differences between reportage and documentary photographic style are very blurred as the both aim to capture an event or moment. Reportage is more allegorical than documentary, which is more neutral but the boundaries for me are blurred and overlap.
Photojournalism is more about collecting photos for a news story and editing them to fit a narrative, even if this is different to what the photographer originally intended. Similar to documentary and reportage but the photographer really lose control of their work, which can lead to a different narrative being told when compared to the photographers original intention.
Art photography does not have a clear defined definition but this is down to the creative decisions made in camera. Art photography is a contrast to documentary style, which aims to show a specific account of a specific event. It should express the emotion and the perception of the photographer. It should promote various aesthetic values.
Defining the above styles is not easy and the experts have been trying to do this since photography was accepted as an art may be as far back as Alfred Steiglitz work in 1892 in his series Winter, Fifth Avenue.
1858 may have been the year of the first photographic exhibition,which took place in the South Kensington Museum in London.
My idea of documentary photography was originally any photograph that showed as scene that was real. I now understand that real and truth are interesting words and think about this differently. For me the boundaries in photography are blurred and may be all boundaries are blurred e.g fiction and non fiction in books. Some non-fiction to me is fiction as it is written from a different political perspective. I am now asking myself the question is the truth out there, in a slight X-files way? I am now not only more critical of work, deeper thinking, analytical, but also sceptical in my search for the real, the facts or truth behind any image.
Very interesting open set of exercises that have introduced me to context and narrative in photography.