photography after photogrpahy

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by stefan_krzysiak, Jan 5, 2003.

  1. my name is Stefan Krzysiak and I am currently writing a design
    reseach report on photography for my degree, with the
    heading 'Technology and the changing nature of art'. I would
    appreciate your opinions on whether or not you believe the dawn of
    the digital age has meant the death of photography as an art form or
    whether you believe that photography was ever an art form in the
    first place. I believe that in the twentieth century, the
    photographer took on a different role as social commentator and that
    fine art photography no longer exist. I also believe that people
    using digial camera equipment can not call themselves photographers
    because the manipulation involved with digital strays far away from
    the efforts of the masters of photography such as Stieglitz to
    produce 'straight photography', images that are not tampered with in
    any way. I also would like opinion on what you believe is next for
    photography, what does the future hold in store.

    Any comments you would like to make on this subject would be very
    helpful in my research, as I belive there is a wealth of knowledge to
    be harnessed from a such wed site.

    yours hopefully
    stefan k
     
  2. Photography literally means 'drawing with light'. Nowhere is there any reference to the actual medium involved be it glass plate, film or compact flash card.
    If photography was or was not an art form before digital then after digital hasn't changed anything.
    Insofar as manipulation is concerned that can be done in the darkroom as well as the computer using techniques like pushing or pulling the development, cross processing, dodging and burning, using filters (on camera or while printing), high contrast versus low contrast paper, etc. Digital just changes how the manipulation is done not the fact that it is done.
    Fine art photography does exist in the post-digital age, just look for it.
     
  3. I.) "I would appreciate your opinions on whether or not you believe the dawn of the digital age has meant the death of photography as an art form..."
    Why would the birth of something new mean the death of something that already exists? If anything it will mean the continued evolution of Photography. Except for distribution systems, tthere is virtually nothing done to photographic by digital means that wasn't being done (although with a lot more work) before.
    II.) "I believe that in the twentieth century, the photographer took on a different role as social commentator and that fine art photography no longer exist."
    That is a an extremely narrow theory that reality does not support. You need to take your intellectual blinkers off. In particular the work of the Bechers, John Pfahl, Andreas Gursky, Richard Misrach, Cindy Sherman, Robert Mapplethorpe, Gregory Crewsdon, Sally Mann, Gay Block, Ernst Haas, Diane Arbus, GarryWinogrand, Manuel Bravo, Nicholas Nixon, Jock Sturges, Nan Goldin, Ralph Gibson, and about hundred other photographers who have been prominent & active over the past twenty years contradict your thesis.
    III.) "I also believe that people using digial camera equipment can not call themselves photographers because the manipulation involved with digital strays far away from the efforts of the masters of photography such as Stieglitz to produce 'straight photography', images that are not tampered with in any way."
    define tampering. Is altering the development time of a negative to change the contrast ofthe negative, "tampering"? What about dodging and burning? Or cropping? Or making anything but a contact print of the negative? Is toning a print "tampering"? I can go on but I think you get my drift.
    IV.) "...or whether you believe that photography was ever an art form in the first place."
    Photography, as practiced by some people, is an art. Photography, practiced by a smaller group of those people, is a very serious art form. The important thing in "Photography" is the individual photographers.
     
  4. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    I'll try and input, though you may not like what I say much since I seem to disagree with most of your ingoing positions.

    "I believe that in the twentieth century, the photographer took on a different role as social commentator and that fine art photography no
    longer exist."

    Don't know where this one springs from.

    1. The bulk of the photographs made today are not for social commentary, though they have a social purpose. The majority of photographs are of the kids in the backyard, your sister's wedding, the holiday to Italy last summer or whatever. They have no pretensions to any genre or any desire to appeal to anyone that isn't connected. It has long been such. Photography was never primarily about fine art and it's not primarily about social commentary now. Photography is primarily about memories, and any other purpose is by comparison a tiny minority.

    2. Has social commentary replaced fine art and does the latter exist?
    I can buy an argument to the extent that social commentary became an important application for photography in the twentieth century, but not that it replaced fine art. In fact I don't see these as alternatives in any way. Fine Art photography has made huge strides in the last hundred years and continues to do so. Look at the websites of any of the major New York photographic galleries to see for yourself. A hundred years ago there was little abstract photography, and people were busy trying to master a difficult technique to produce quality realistic images. Only since leaving a preoccupation with technique aside has the concentration on more artistic or communicative images become more prevalent. If we define "fine art photography" as something carried out for its own sake (and not try to impose some contentious and artificial standard upon the definition) then there is probably more going on now than there was a hundred years ago by a factor of thousands. Not least this is because millions more people are creating billions more images. It may be the case that a smaller proportion of photographers are producing "fine art" than was the case a century ago, but that's not terribly relevant, is it?

    3. Is photography art? Can be. See Ellis Vener's answer.


    "strays far away from the efforts of the masters of photography such as Stieglitz "

    How do you know Stieglitz was a master? I'm no expert on his work but what I've seen has bored me. I'd much, much rather look at the work of someone like Michael Kenna, or Michael Kahn, or Tony Worobiec than try and get excited by Stieglitz. The point here is that for some people, and indeed some galleries, fine art has to mean "dead photographer". To me that's a very financially orientated, narrow view of the world, and I'm delighted to see people like Gursky selling photographs for huge sums simply because it breaks this mould.

    "I would appreciate your opinions on whether or not you believe the dawn of the digital age has meant the death of photography as an art form"

    Why should it? Photography is and was always about photographs not merely a way to use film. Digital is just a different way of getting to the same place. Sometimes it does a worse job, sometimes better. Why are you confusing the medium and the message? I think I understand. When your central thesis is that art photography is dead you have to come up with reasons why that's happened, and you've alighted on digital. You might find that if you reviewed the premise then the need for the (my view) bogus rationalisation goes away.

    "people using digial camera equipment can not call themselves photographers because the manipulation involved with digital strays far away from the efforts of the masters of photography such as Stieglitz to produce 'straight photography', images that are not tampered with in any way. "

    This one could go on and on, and you don't want to read it and I certainly don't want to write it. Just let me tell you two small secrets. First, prints made from film often differ markedly from the original exposure. Some of this is by accident and some by design. With analogue printing it's a real struggle to get two prints from the same image looking similar. Second, just because it is possible to manipulate a digital image does not make manipulation compulsory. If I wanted to choose a technique to replicate as closely as I possibly could what I'd captured in a camera then I'd choose digital, and then I could do it time after time. You can't equate one system with manipulation and the other with purity- and that's not an opinion, it's a fact.

    You know, technology has had a remarkable effect on photography. Look at the extent to which reducing size, more efficient and better quality production, and ever richer features has put competent image-making capability (still and video) into the hands of many millions. Photography used to be elite and it isn't now. Why you want to by-pass these huge and incontrovertible changes in favour of some half-assed, contentious, and relatively insignificant debate about art is quite beyond me.
     
  5. I recond art comes from within and if you don't have what it takes then no matter what
    tool you have at your disposal you are not going to be great. There will always be ones
    that have what it takes to be great, but that is because of what they have within that
    makes them so, not because of the tools they use, yes anyone can take a photo, like
    anyone can trow paint at a canvas but I think it takes alot more than we give the masters
    credit for, respect is what we are losing as people. We all think that we can do it, and we
    all will try, photographers alike, but in reality there will be only a few that make the cut
    and will be remembered for years to come. You show me one photographer on this site
    that took a photo like Cartier Brierson, or Edward Western, try Ansel Adams, try are many
    great photographers arround that blow my mind, but I resect the ones that changed the
    corse of photography, saved parts of a country that was to be developed, made people
    realise what they do and how they live, risked there lives to show the world what goes on
    in war, and take time time to give people exposure that would other wise never have been
    heard of or seen before, those are what makes great photographers in my mind anyway, I
    will never be that great because I will not risk my life of sacrifice my comfort and that goes
    for many other photographers who I believe are amazingly clever.
    To get back to where I began it doesn't matter if Ansel Adams hade a digital in his hand or
    a large format camera, and the same goes for all the other greats, what matters is that
    they where in a place that nobody alse was at that moment in time, and isn't that what
    photography is really is about!
     

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