Online Photographic Thinking

One of the essays I read this week made me think about the dissemination of our work as photographers at a deeper level. The article written by Jason Evans entitled ‘Online Photographic Thinking’ questions the medium of photography from the point of view of how technology makes our photographic experiences more diverse and allows us to reach a broader audience. While agreeing with the author at the theoretical level I am still curious if the number of Instagram followers will automatically generate new business or if such number really does correlate with the quality of one’s work.

Evans is definitely right in not juxtaposing analogue and digital, highlighting the benefits that the digital revolution has brought in terms of creation and dissemination of images. Having started with film cameras, I have migrated to digital Nikon D300 in 2007 and D500 in 2017 for most of my work, although from time to time I use medium format film Hasselblad 500 c/m, film 35mm Nikon or a 6×9 camera. Each format allows to generate a variety of unique styles of photography that are often impossible to reproduce with other means.

Digital dissemination of images clearly creates opportunities simply unimaginable in the previous decades, my Flickr blog registered over a million views last month, which would simply be unattainable with a gallery show or a book. There is a catch however, as Evans writes: “In the recent scramble to establish the new cultural frontier that is “contemporary art photography,” there has been a shift away from defunct ideas about visual “democracy,” wide circulation of the “image,” and the re-establishment of the photograph as object. Art market credo limits many of the defining characteristics of the photographic medium, simultaneously rendering “serious” work less likely to reveal itself with any real intent in the populist and, goddammit, free realm of the Internet.”

The question of differentiation and marketing of fine art photography naturally arises as it is still the gallery institution, museums and books that proclaim and confirm the significance of your work as a fine art photographer. One wishes also for a deeper and more engaged audience working with online media, it is somehow the sign of our times that the whole spectrum of thoughts and emotions is often replaced with a binary 1/0 “like”. Flickr and Instagram could potentially be those highly engaging platforms where people would discuss each other’s work, inspire and stimulate each other. Are you confronting similar issues in your work? What are your thoughts on this?

References

Evans J. (2009) Online photographic thinking / Klein, A., Cotton, C., Los Angeles County Museum of Art (eds) Words without pictures, Aperture, Thames & Hudson, 2009, pp. 41-61

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