Burk Uzzle said, "Photography is robust, vital, and demands honesty. Pretensions are reflected mercilessly by the imprecision of a mentality that has no hiding place with an instrument so totally dependent upon its user for its character". Uzzle goes on to say that the equipment needs guidance and to really see is the function of a complete and giving photographer.
In order for an image to have power and represent an insight into the character of the subject and the one taking the photograph, a photographer has to reflect on why he is attracted to the subject. The photographer might not know at first the attraction, he might instinctively know he has to shoot it, but eventually he will reflect on it and try to understand his fascination with the scene. Whether we know it or not, we are in a relationship with the world. Our time line, our choices move us in different directions. Because of this, we are allowed to see our own private perceptions form from our unique vantage point. In order to express these revelations, we must be in tune to our inner world and our perceptions of the outer universe.
What I think is happening in today's world of photography is an exploitation of the ordinary life. The life we all lead has powerful influences on society and is shaping our future directions. This ordinary life is attractive to advertisers because it reflects a deep seated moral consciousness in us. I hear all the time from my photo agencies that they want something authentic, a natural feel. It has to look real, alive and the product placement must be validated by their happy involved experience.
Nothing new here, this is adman 101. But what is different, is the changing landscape of the manipulations. In the past ads used (think political ads) abstract ideas like freedom, respect and love of country to sell the product without getting into the actual details of what is underneath those abstract concepts. If you reflect on these ads you kind of scratch your head because really the ad didn't say much of about anything. In fact, they were hiding their true motives behind an emblem to manipulate the viewing public. Some would have called it subliminal advertising.
Now, however, there is a race to exploit the details behind the abstract concepts. We are seeing a fragmentation of advertising from the general to a specific target with images that reflect a real bond between the product and the person. There has been a conscious change in the way advertisers exploit the masses and social media right now is the engine driving information to the people.
In fact, advertisers are happy to exploit images that were created for personal family use. These make the perfect realness they need to connect to a select population and influence them to buy the products. Make no mistake about it, in this material world it is all about selling and profit.
I think we need to be more autonomous and free from the constant distractions and copy cat photography in web culture. Your life is your life. A family image becomes a piece taken from your world, abstracted from its place in time, and now posted on a social media site. Is this private experience becoming a public spectacle, devaluing the importance of the person in the picture?
This sharing can be obsessive. Are those connections really important to who you are and what you want to become? Or, are they a distraction from living a life you want versus posting a life for all to see. Are we now finally experiencing the beginning of the me/now consciousness and becoming forever rushed in this reality of instant voyeurism, succumbing to the trivial and it's addictive power.
The real problem in photography today is the amount of pictures bleeding over into and influencing the behavior of young photographers who seem to think that anything is a photo worth taking. Get this out of your head, be more selective, more purposeful and your images will be understood on a deeper level and have meaning for future image makers.