What do you do? |Week 4: Rethinking Photographers| Positions and Practice

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Photographers on Film

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How else do I think popular representations of photographers contribute to perceived social and cultural values of the profession?

I think that many people view the profession in different ways depending on the role and position of the practitioner, for example, a independent fashion photographer who has successfully established there name (e.g Rankin) in the industry to some will be seen to as inspirational and a dream job, but for fashion photographers just working their way up for a company their work will be, well not as seen, “It’s all about what you actually do, rather than how you feel. Of course your thoughts and feelings matter, at least to those that know you personally. But as far as the rest of the world is concerned, your internal world barely exists.” – The Best Fashion Photography Career Advice You’ll Ever Get by Natalia Borecka. A similar scenario in other roles like sports, with line ups of photographers you see at the side of a football field, it almost seems as if each of those photographers individualities will fade, when really each and everyone of them would have a story of preparation for the day and a skill for precise shot timing which may go unnoticed which may make this role seem less inspirational or creative. Another example, the paparazzi are mainly made out to look a nuisance displayed from the celebrities perspective on forms of media such as TV shows or UGC clips on youtube (An example of a celebrities reactions to  paparazzi with terms used like “blood sucking mosquitos” and “pick a profession with some type of respect to it” – Link). It is shown that they don’t get the same level respect as say, a wedding photographer, were people are much more willing to get involved and embrace the photographers because it is seen more friendly and fun.

Do I have favourite or least favourite movie about a photographer?

Whilst I haven’t actually seen any of the movies presented in this weeks presentation, I will be for sure trying and get my hands on them as they look extremely interesting and diverse. I especially want to check out the ‘Nightcrawler’. If I had to pick from the top of my head it would first ‘Cloverfield’ 2008 and any ‘Spiderman’ movie.

What does this film say about the medium and its practitioners?

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Cloverfield is a film not about a still image photographer but it does use the medium of photography in that the whole film is recorded on a handheld video camera (or at least meant to look as if it was). It is a unique movie designed to bring you along and into the action of a traumatising alien attack on the city from the perspective of an amateur recording. This brings a heavy sense of reality the movie as it feels as if you are experiencing the events first hand with the people involved in the incident. I think it shows the realistic and gritty impact user generated clips have as apposed to a using advanced clear equipment.

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In the Spiderman movies, the main protagonist ‘Peter Parker’ is part photographer, part super hero. Despite having amazing super powers, he still keeps the role as a freelance photographer for his local newspaper. In the film he is paid low, and gets shouted at and rejected by the boss, but he still pursues to work for them and ends up using his new abilities help get the correct photos for the newspaper. I think this speaks a lot about the love people have for photography and the sacrifices they will make to fulfil their passion for the medium.

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What do I think non-photographers make of professional photographers? What are the conceptions and misconceptions?

From my own experience, my conversations have normally gone along like this – Friend “Oh so how’s photography going?” Me – “yeah its not too bad” Friend – “Oh it can’t go wrong, taking photos of beautiful women, living the dream!” and thats that.

Similar goes for the stranger “What do you do?” Me – “I’m a portrait photographer” stranger – “oh cool… (awkward pause) .. is the money good?”

As I said, from my experience it seem either they think it is a glamorous, fun and easy job, but the non-photographer doesn’t see the hard work behind the scenes. The planning, reaching out, keeping contacts interested, the costs for promotion, the travel cost and the bloody editing times. The financial questions tend to bug me the most, as the majority i’ve spoken don’t understand that it is hard to make a solid income off it, especially at the start. But saying this, there are some non-photographers I have spoken to that understand, are very supportive and are aware that it is not just point and shoot.

Manufactures and Developers

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What is the impact of ever changing technology?

As mentioned in my previous posts, I believe the changes have caused over-saturation, but it is not to say these improvements are not fascinating, the use of drone cameras and 3d technology are special and things will only get more advanced leading to more possibilities and outcomes. The fact that we can even hold phones that take photos matching the strengths of the SLR’s megapixels is a gift.

What challenges has this presented me with?

Over-saturation. So many people have easy access to powerful photo taking equipment, it rises the competition to a new level world wide.

How have I embraced (or rejected) changing technology in my practice?

I have embraced it. In school I was never a fan of film photograph and I couldn’t wait to move on to digital. Mainly for the fact I wanted to be able to see what I was photographing immediately on the spot so that I can learn quicker from my results and that I can retake an image over and over until I can eventually get the shot I needed. But of course I respect the roots and the pure skill it takes when shooting in analogue and I do understand the excitement and mystery that comes from developing the photographs. I have taken advantage of various lighting equipment and use my phones camera for social media such as Instagram. I also embrace the powerful editing softwares we have including on my phone and tablet.

How do I think the way that cameras are marketed affects peoples perception of the value of professional photography?

A resent advert for the new Canon EOS M5 – Link shows an example that camera commercials can be very aimed towards people who want to become or are already a photographer. I think this is a good thing as it strengthens the separation between photographer and non-photographers giving the profession more value in my opinion. On the other hand, Nikon’s an advert from Nikon – Link displays that the camera can be marketed on a more casual way to photographers and amateurs which will reach out to a more global scale encouraging anyone to buy a camera, which could increase someones perspective of photography being something not to be taken seriously. And finally a Nikon advert – Link which boasts the digital and technical aspects of the camera alone, this will interest the practitioners and professionals but will rule out many of the amateur and non-photographers.

Photojournalism & Amateur Aesthetics

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How do I think digital filters affect the way we read images?

When it comes to editing, I take it very seriously. I have spent countless hours crafting away on photoshop because I believe it enables you not only to enhances your image but really shine your creative imagination through and achieve your ultimate look you envisioned. I remember about 2 years into my practice, I didn’t even know digital filters existed on smartphones/apps or any kind of software, I even remember when I was first introduced to Instagram and I still remember my first reaction to it – I thought to myself “What is this? So I have spent all this time and effort refining images manually, when you can now just do it at a click of a button?!” I was honestly shocked that anyone could take a photo then just add someones else’s pre-edit to it. The person who made the filters hard work is completely disregarded and everyones photos now run the high risk of looking the same. Again I believe this feature over saturates the art itself and it weakens the line between the photographer and the non-photographers talent in image making. However, thats not to say I don’t think filters are a useful tool, over the years I have found myself adapting to them. They have leaded me on to experiment then learn how to edit with multiple filter layers together with the blending the use of different softwares. Filters can create a complete mood change to the photo and almost instantly make an average photo look professional, and with such a large selection to choose from, this can make photography seem effortless to the non-photographer.

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Do I see the rise of UGC as a challenge for me or does it present opportunities?

I think it only present opportunities. I believe moments should be caught on camera wether they are happy moments or traumatic ones, each event is unique and should in some way have brought awareness to them through the gift of the camera.

In my own practice, have I exploited any opportunities that have arisen due to user generated content?

Only for personal use, e.g capturing unexpected events like a car crash. I always have my smartphone camera ready as it is easy to carry and quick to use just like Damon Winters explains ‘A grunts life‘ in 2011.

Rethinking Photographers

How does the popular perception and consumption of photography impact upon my own practice?

The only way in which photography is perceived has effected me, is that I had to step away from my own creative freedom and move onto work such as weddings and party events to stay afloat. I also admit being slightly influenced by image social media platforms such as Instagram, I find very inspiring work on there which sometimes makes me feel I have to implement the trends to some degree, finding a way to blend with my own style.

How does this influence how I operate and the kind of imagery that I make?

I end up using my phone a lot to take images, I pick up on other photographers style, trends and edits and observe and learn from them what I can to continue developing my own. A certain standard of imagery required for weddings and events has lead me to buy better flash equipment.

 

 

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