Re-focusing Photography

In a blog post titled 'Why our attachment to the past is hindering the future of photography' (https://petapixel.com/2017/04/05/attachment-past-hindering-future-photography/), Lars Mensel is concerned about photography's preoccupation with its own past. Mensel suggests that, whilst we are delving into the work of the greats, such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, we are unable to 'look at photography with fresh eyes. Mensel continues by expressing his dislike for pigeonholing a photograph into a specific genre, such as 'street', 'portrait', or 'landscape'. However, art has always been organised into categories, so this would seem to be suitable for the art of photography. 

Mensel does raise some interesting points. During my photographic study, a significant amount of time has been spent looking at the work of past photographers. It also continues to question whether photography is an art form. I have often wondered why photography spends so much time looking back at itself, trying to justify its existence and place in society. 

Due to the fact that photography is still a relatively new art form, it could be argued that photographers are not looking that far back in time. Furthermore, there has to be some kind of reference point for others to base their inspiration and motivation on. There has to be a starting point.

Photography is a method of communication. Until now, we never had a reliable means of transmitting and receiving that information quickly and widely. With smart phones, wifi networks and social media, the technology and systems are in place to enable the flow and storage of images between users.  

Another thing that Mendel fails to mention is the pace at which technology is driving photographic change. Now that I have an iPhone, there is less of a need for me to carry my DSLR around, with its kit bag and supporting lenses. Instead, my iPhone is: much more portable; with me at all times; able to create decent images quality; an editing suite; and a publishing service. With my DSLR I would have to: return home and download the raw files; edit them on my laptop; save the files to a hard drive; and then upload them to a web server etc. GPS has even enabled photographers to tag their images with location data that they would have to have manually imputed. 

With the rise of smartphone photography, there seems a lack of space for expensive DSLRs, such as the Canon MkIV. 

Photography is ahead of itself.