Last night I was sat in the pub with a former mentor of mine, after a Photographer talk at the Arnolfini in Bristol, and the discussion turned to What even is a fucking photographer anymore?. We have all had to adapt to a multi-faceted practice, becoming: editors, designers, curators, writers, salespeople e.t.c. No longer is the role of the photographer just to walk around making images, and hand them over to someone and be done with it. It got me wondering about photography’s purest form.
For me, Photography with a capital P’s purists are the amateur photographer's of this world. The kind of photographer that crowds around a sexist stall at the Photography show in Birmingham, showing off their latest Canon L lens. Mainstream photography media relies on selling consumers the upgrade - The faster camera processor, or higher megapixels or creamiest Bokeh (whatever that is anyway). Gear has become sex, and sex sells.
Top 10’s this and 'must have’ that, are consuming online photographic content. On YouTube for example, for every 1 interesting video there is on Eggleston, there are probably 15 amateur videos telling you why this camera body is better than that one. This is a wild world of Internet forums and YouTube stars with the fetishisation on photography at it’s core.
I don’t have a problem with the businessmen’s toy’s side of photography, but when it starts merging itself into a more content driven platform, I get worried about the future of photographic art. Without wanting to get myself blacklisted from being featured on the BJP in the future, I’d like to reference a fairly recent article showing this. On the surface it's an article on a respectable British portrait photographer; however that is masking the fact that it’s a Frankenstein hybrid article/interview/advert for the latest Fuji flagship camera. It’s as though Fuji have a gun to the Photographer’s head telling them to say how great their new £10,000 camera is. I understand marketing like this funds contemporary photography content, and in a dying print-based world, this is crucial in staying afloat - I just wish it wasn't so sneaky in doing so
*Article linked below so you can make your own mind up on this.*
Photography’s purest form is undoubtedly the amateur. I will still call myself a photographer, as I that’s how I tell stories; not to mention ‘Lens based artist’ sounds a bit wanky - but I don’t consider myself a purist of the medium. Photography & storytelling are two ends of a very clashing but interconnected spectrum. Perhaps I need to stop looking at the internet as much, as a means of social analysis - but boy is the online Photography industry a bizarre one.
BJP Article - http://www.bjp-online.com/2017/08/the-many-heads-required-of-a-contemporary-photographer/