Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Is Photography Dead?

Normally, I'm not a Newsweek guy, I'm a TIME guy. But on a long trip to Rutland, VT, I picked up a copy of the "other" news reader and other than discovering a heavy commitment to experts from Harvard every other page (there are other reputable Universities, folks), I was really taken by a smart, insightful article by Peter Plagens entitled, "Is Photography Dead?"

In it, Plagens eloquently points out that the 21st century generation of photographers, for all their digital, Photoshopping, fabricated innovations and perfection have lost the honesty that the first photographers were able to capture using the medium. It's a great point. One that is linked to the controversial digital backlash. Is the world, in its pursuit of ease and technological advancement, becoming detrimentally removed from the idea of humanism? There is a fine line between social connectivity as we know it now and soulful, corporeal connection, or human to human contact.

Let me give one extended quote from the article:
"Digitalization has made much of art photography's vast variety possible. But it's also a major reason that, 25 years after the technology exploded what photography could do and be, the medium seems to have lost its soul. Film photography's artistic cachet was always that no matter how much darkroom fiddling someone added to a photograph, the picture was, at its core, a record of something real that occurred in front of the camera. A digital photograph, on the other hand, can be a Photoshop fairy tale, containing only a tiny trace of a small fragment of reality. By now, we've witnessed all the magical morphing and seen all the clever tricks that have turned so many photographers—formerly bearers of truth—into conjurers of fiction. It's hard to say "gee whiz" anymore."
So what say you? Do we have the ability to capture truth anymore from this medium? Can we look to photographs to capture moments for us the way we once did, or have the expectations already been set that photography is now a manipulated rendering (sometimes remarkably so) of the vivid imagination of the photographer?

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the thoughts and opinions expressed below are entirely my own, and are not necessarily shared by my friends, family, or employer. (though they very well might be...)