Photography is Changing

Photography is changing from documentation to expression

It is quite obvious to me that photography as we have known it until digital took over is over. However, a new photography is emerging. What it is is still in the making, the actual emergence being hampered by the ongoing and constant technological improvements and changes. Now that these have slowed down, and that we have a relatively stable platform to work from, I expect to see this emergence take a more easily recognizable form.

This process is no different than the process that followed the emergence of photography itself. At that time it was claimed that painting was over. Certainly, painting as it was known prior to the invention of photography was over. However, a new painting emerged, and this new painting was characterized by no longer being responsible for representing things as they were. Photography could do this a lot better. Painting therefore took on a different role, that of representing what could not be seen. The abstract, the impressionist, the surreal, etc. became the subject of this new painting.

What is happening with photography today, is that just like painting before it, the responsibility to represent reality is fading away. It appears that this reality is now falling upon the shoulders of video. This change is made possible in part by the emergence of HD video which gives us a more believable image, especially on TV. It is seconded by the difficulty of manipulating video on computers. While possible, it takes a much more powerful machine than is required to manipulate a photograph. The knowledge necessary is also far less mainstream than for photography. While nearly everyone is familiar with Photoshop, few can name software used to manipulate video, and far fewer actually use this software.

This is seen in many different photography fields. Clearly it is present in fine art, because it is about expression rather than documentation, but it is also seen in reportage, wedding, etc. People who want reality now turn to video. People who turn to photography expect something different than what they see or what they can capture on their own.

Alain Briot

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1 thought on “Photography is Changing

  1. Alain, I think you are fighting against prejudices. Prejudices deeply rooted in the artist as well as in the audience. No expression medium is really objective, Historically photography seemed very objective, but even if we only had so many choices in films or formats 50 years ago, even choosing a lens introduces subjectivity in the work, because nobody sees in wide angle or tele formats. I guess you already said this before, but reading about it is helpfull, at least it helped me free myself fom constraints, in the end, what goes on paper should be what I want, and nothing else. And it makes the possibilities of affective interaction between artist and audience a lot wider, as they should be.
    I just had the chance to see some of Monet’s work, and i found his romance with water lilies incredibly interesting. He painted them for decades, and I believe he grew through them, from some very textual concepts to much more abstract, synthetic views that expressed much more of himself. I was surprissed at how natural the same kind of evolution sounded to me in a photographic concept. Once you see it like that you canĀ“t think of photography as a plain documentation tool.
    (I love water lilies, by the way, and cranes!).

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