Wednesday, May 12

Yak Yak Yak: The photographs that destroyed photography

- November 1, 2016


Photographs dominate our lives. We snap away willy nilly with our phones and posting them on social networks with the same abandon. I’m not against this, it can be lovely to see what friends are doing, families, their exploits… but is this photography? Well not the art form that I had come to love.

In a career spanning 40 years I have been privileged to work with a great many photographers, exciting new talents and those who had already attained the respect due from years of brilliant work. I still see brilliant work, here in Brighton I see the work of Julia Claxton, an artist with a camera who can also turn her lens to great commercial work, and JJ Waller, who has a razor sharp eye and creates impressively exciting human images. I love their work.

This might sound dismissive, I do see great images online, some well crafted, but I suspect that on the whole they are happy accidents, being in the right place at the right time with your phone. And yes, I take phone pics and share them. It is a very seductive form of image making I agree.

A very seductive form of image making

I recently spent time with my mum looking at old family photographs. To be honest the images are pretty poor but what they have is heart, they were taken on special occasions and with due thought because taking a photograph actually cost quite a lot of money. Back then we didn’t snap away in the hope that we might get a good shot. We took our time, rationed our film and then had to wait to see what we had captured. We invested in those images in a way that we do not in phone pics and selfies.

I don’t want to sound like I’m the picture police prosecutor, far from it but I do want to suggest that we look harder at how we use our phones to record modern life and what we choose to record. There have been some amazing exhibitions of photography across our city in October, the camera making art and not just keeping track of our daily life.

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