Saturday, June 23, 2012

Photography: what is it?

"Photographers: You're Being Replaced by Software" blurts the title of an article by Mark Meyer on petapixel. A good look at the image very quickly reveals the images to be fake: synthetic. However, setting aside the quality of the images many questions come to mind as to the nature of photography. What is photography really? What is the role of the photographer? Is photography capturing a photo on film or a CCD, downloading it onto the computer, starting photoshop or equivalent software and clicking a button? Must a photograph relate to or depict a real object, scene, situation, etc...? If this is the case can some of Man Ray's "photographs" be called photographs? Where does the photographer fit in the whole process? Is the photographer simply a button pusher? An extension of the camera? Or is the camera--film or otherwise--a tool which allows the photographer to capture what the photographer sees, feels or thinks?
Before talking about replacing the photographer we must define what the word photographer means.
I find the title of the article sensationalist and alarmist in the same vain as the painter Paul Delaroche who declared painting dead when he first saw a daguerrotype in 1839. Painting is still alive and well despite the widespread use of cameras--every person with a mobile phone has a camera. I doubt very much that Blender or any other software will ever replace or even remotely compete with photographers. However, if we think of a photographer as some one who draws with light by capturing the light and shadows on film or a CCD why can't we think of the person who uses the mouse and software such as Blender as a painter--a digital painter--or even a "photographer" of sorts?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

On Seeing

As the saying goes, we see in terms of our education. We look at the world and see what we have learned to believe is there. We have been conditioned to expect. And indeed it is socially useful that we agree on the function of objects. But, as photographers, we must learn to relax our beliefs. Move on objects with your eye straight on, to the left, around on the right. Watch them grow large as you approach, group and regroup as you shift your position. Relationships gradually emerge and sometimes assert themeselves with finality. And that’s your picture. - Aaron Siskind, The Art of Photography - LIFE Library of Photography , Page: 18