There was a mild flutter in the DS hen coop last week. Seems film director’s Wim Wenders’ opinion that phone photography had sucked the life out of “real” photography, leaving it for dead, yet here he was seeking new nomenclature to describe this art.
That said, he did admit to using a phone camera and even taking selfies, “…but that’s not photography.”
He admits to loving Polaroids, but contends that the main issue is that no-one looks at phone pictures any more – as if most phone shooters did at some time in the past. “They certainly don’t make prints,” he adds.
No surprises there.
He claims that filters, effects and image manipulation apps make the situation worse, while according to Wenders, the reality is much more Calvinistic; “I know from experience that the less you have, the more creative you have to become.”
“Photography was invented to be a more truthful testimony of our world than painting, but it’s not linked to the notion of truth any more.”
So, if you want to join in this billion-a-day habit, you have to use technologically ancient tools, to ensure purity in your art?
“I’m in search of a new word for this activity that looks so much like photography, but isn’t photography any more. Please let me know if you have a word for it.”
Wenders’ claims made me wonder whether he’s short of visibility for his “real” work, or maybe just needs a new roof on his home. Either way, he’s in severe danger of joining the long list of it was better in the past mopers.
Really? You seriously think this was preferable?
No Mr Wenders, I’m guessing that you’re probably also a member of the Flat Earth society, whine at the discrepancies between analog and digital hi-fi, mourn the transition from film to digital and probably also want to ensure the Brits don’t outlaw analogue clocks.
What next? Bemoaning the loss of the petrol and diesel engines as in the real world we swoosh around in our clean, efficient and silent electric cars?
No doubt, there are some diehards who will continue to mourn the loss of the past. The rest of us will get on and enjoy our new-found creative freedom and ability to shoot (and manipulate) fantastic images any time, anywhere and any place and display them (albeit briefly) on the Internet forum of our choice.
This week’s images were shot in Cape Town’s Bo Kaap district using a Fuji X-H1 and my 25mm Biogon (sorry Pascal). In the main, they were intended to be fun and manipulated to reflect the same intent.
#880. Monday Post (22 Jul 2019) – The Sony Empire strikes back: A7R IV (and website news)
#860. Monday Post (20 May 2019) – A tale of two 100s – May challenge – Pixel madness
#851. Monday Post (29 April 2019) – Am I missing something?
#844. Monday Post (15 April 2019) – 100Mp mirrorless cameras, at long last …
#836. Monday Post (25 March 2019) – Love Vs. Hate, or Leica Vs. Zeiss, or Q2 Vs. ZX1
#830. Monday Post (11 March 2019) – Have you lost interest yet?
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Hmm. Controversy spreads. First it’s 1600 Pennsy. Now the rest of us.
Paul, FWIW I have a deep seated aversion to “opinions”. People who have them “argue”, instead of “discussing” or “conversing”. And if you don’t submit, they chop your head off.
Nicely brought up people, like the members of this group, have to ignore them – bite our tongues, and get on with our lives. Perhaps Mr Wenders should be told to write it all down, fold it over twice, and put it somewhere out of the sun. Where opinions belong.
Getting back to photography. There was an interesting comment on Ming Thein’s blog the other day, about lusting after “perfection” and ending up with sterile images – flat and bland. Another “ouch!”
It reminded me of my aunt racing into the house after one meeting, having to bake a cake for the following one, just throwing all together and giving it a quick flick with a spoon before she poured the mix into the moulds to bake it, while she showered and changed. Grabbed the cake on the way out (after dousing it with icing). And came home again a couple of hours later, brandishing the trophy for “best cake” at the meeting.
The explanation the judges gave was that all the other cakes were too perfect – the textures were totally even – and it resulted in a flavourless effect. Whereas aunt’s cake had “subtle variations”, throughout, because it wasn’t “overmixed”. (Actually, it was barely mixed at all 🙂 It took her three minutes to get it into the oven, before she went off to change.)
Another example is “the beauty spot”. Ladies of fashion who were denied the right to a freckle on their cheek, somewhere, used to stick a self adhesive “beauty spot” on, instead. The underlying theory was that one tiny blemish drew attention to the absolute perfection of the rest of their face. (Not suggesting anything here – we’d all get into trouble, if we started sticking beauty spots all over the landscapes we want to photograph. 🙂 )
Creativity and perfection are unhappy bedfellows. They CAN do it together – but it doesn’t always work. As always, it is a though provoking article, lavishly illustrated with shots that aren’t doomed to live on a digital phone for a short period before their premature death.
Tell me – is Coca Cola now the mandatory bicycle/cat/whatever motif? Ghastly substance – most useful for murderers who managed to rid the world of the rest of the corpse of their victim and were left wondering how to dispose of the teeth, because teeth are a nuisance to murderers, they help the cops to identify the victim and work back to the murderer. But dear old “Coke” to the rescue, vanishes the teeth faster than most other substances on the planet – cheaply and without fuss.
A lot for me to think about in this article. I’ve recently hit a dead spot in my photography. Haven’t made a real image since May 11 and don’t even have an inclination to touch my D850. I’m posting to my FB audience and hanging in the gallery strictly from my archived images now.
One of the reasons for my “dead spot” might be summed up by Paulperton’s sentence, “… they were intended to be fun, and manipulated to reflect the same intent.” And Pete’s reference to Ming Thien’s statement about “lusting after perfection and ending up with sterile images – flat and bland.”
I’ve probably been infected in some unperceived way by both fun and perfection. It might be that in my never ending search for perfection I could have lost sight of the fun of photography. Or, maybe the fun was the search for perfection, I don’t know. But, the more my images trend toward improved quality and resolution the more they seem to bore me. And if they bore me I can’t expect anyone else to like them.
Maybe this article will help me think about where I’ve been and if I’m headed anywhere else with my photography. I shot film for 46 years: 35mm, several medium formats, and then several years with 4×5. And now, I’m using digital cameras and have been for the last 12 years. Mini 4/3, DX format and full frame.
I’ve done work for magazines, advertising clients, weddings, portrait studio, wildlife, macro, landscape and street photography etc, etc. And I’m just not feeling it anymore.
Now I’m wondering where I’m headed next or if this is the end of it. Maybe the contemplation of “fun” and “perfection” mentioned in this article will inspire my next direction. But, whether it does or not, I enjoyed the thought provoking discussion and loved the pictures posted with it.
Cliff, I don’t know if this helps. I hope it might.
I’ve always taken photos for my own pleasure. Other people do, and I see no reason why I shouldn’t. I’ve never been a follower of fashion anyway, so if pixel counting or XYZ lenses or PQR cameras is their bag, so what? If nothing else, this has been extremely liberating! 🙂
I totally get where he is coming from, so no, I do not think he is being in anyway elitist nor is he luddite-ish either. People are taking photos that they do not look at, or taking photos to try and get an algorithm to like, all for the purposes of data collection to sell your personal information. That is fundamentally different to documentation, snapshot or artistic photography as it was previously understood. The word for robot comes from slave, there seems to be some form of induced, involuntary or addictive behaviour around modern phone photography so perhaps robography (slave writing) may be a word for Mr Wenders, probably should apply to other social media activities like tweeting as well.
The technology has nothing to do with it, there are actually people who do curate the phone photography, and that is probably the point, real photography incudes deliberate and non-automated tasks between capture to display where the curation takes place. Robography is a continuous feed of personal socioeconomic, location and psychographic data for others to exploit, any resulting unseen images are just a memory clogging by-product.
I also note a prevalence of vertical and square format images today and your previous post. Is that shooting to a format for a project?
No, Noel. It was just me wandering the Bo Kaap, not thinking about anything in particular, beyond enjoying a glorious mid winter day and shooting with a zone focussed manual lens. Thinking about it, the small homes and available views on this side-of-a-hill suburb are likely to lead to portrait format images – the last landscape keeper I shot there was back in 2014.
Love those colorful photos
Thanks Joakim. I’ll be happy to show you around when you come ot Cape Town.