Saturday, June 22, 2013

Six Billion Photos....

I read an article this morning in the Globe and Mail on photography by staff correspondent, Ian Brown. Ironically it was in the "Focus" section of the paper and it was entitled "Six Billion Photos and Nothing to See." The author was one of three renown photographers who were judges of The Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival's photography competition 2013. Although they received more than 500 submissions, they failed to find a winner - the first time that this has happened in 18 years.

Brown went on to say that although he saw many gorgeous photos, not one of them told a story. The criterion of the competition was to take a photo of wildlife or wilderness that told a story. The rest of the article was a lament of the digital age and the subsequent loss of the real meaning of photography. To the author, photography today is just a narcissistic collection of snapshots rather than a documentation of the human condition.

The article mentions photographers who still shoot in black and white film because they have to take time to consider their subjects, the composition, the angles etc - film and its processing is expensive so care has to be taken. This is photography as a studied art, quite unlike the unlimited free shots available with a digital, that can be taken and processed in seconds - can this really be called art? Editing images is also more expensive and time consuming with film than with digital pictures. Although the contest didn't rule out altered photos, the judges made comments, such as, "edited incomprehensibly."

Alas, Ian Brown is a voice crying in the wilderness.  The times, they have changed and no amount of censure will stop the proliferation of something that is "free." Authors have seen it with book sites that offer free downloads of anything in print or offer free publishing of anything that you want to see in digital print. I have seen these changes in my small part of the craft industry. Instructional material or classes, that people once paid for, are now free in both print and video on-line. Their argument is that the instructions are free so that people will buy the materials needed from the site. It is true that at the moment, we still have to buy concrete objects. However, once 3-D printers take hold, almost anyone will be able to create almost anything on the spot.

Is there a story here?

I think that we all have to look seriously, if we want a job or a business, at programs for 3-D printers. If they can make guns, they can make knitting needles and yarn. If they can create human tissue, they can print food!! Hmmmmm, what was that line about wildlife and wilderness? I think that maybe I have to get back to nature, to the basics. This, of course, will be the counter movement to all these mechanical advances, so, yes perhaps you could invest in a camp ground or a Woodstock - something that sets the soul free!!

The picture? I took it at a side street in Florence. There were streams of people passing by, all stopping to take a picture or have their picture taken beside the "cute little car." I'm not sure it tells a story, but the words on the awning do. They read, "Souvenir Kodak Film."

Have a wonderful day!!

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