Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Photography 2013

Things keep changing, back in the "good old days" taking photos was a pain. Simply lugging the camera around was a pain so most families left it at home or in the car. Missing the memorable shot of their child riding rides at Disneyland or playing with friends at the birthday party.

But now with cameras in our cellphone, in laptops, in tablets, and part of the digital player there is not excuse for not capturing and preserving the moment. BUT when you are taking photos you are an observer, not a participant. How will you remember the event, trying to find the right angle, or really seeing and experiencing what is happening? Now, psychologists feel the camera is in the way, it takes away from the event. 

I remember hearing Michael Evans, President Reagans official photographer, tell how he refused to take photos of his kids. He wanted to enjoy the moment, be part of their lives, not an outsider.

Photography is changing. I go to a Best Buy store and see customers take photos of the information label beside a product so they can remember what the store price was and compare it to online or competing store prices. The photo doesn't lie.

Many companies require employees to take photos. No problem. Show how the product was installed, or how much damage happened to the car. Just point and shoot.

With all these images we forget the event, remember the photo? Now tv/video captures the motion and the sound of the event. But as newsphotographers know, there is other action happening outside the frame and the camera is limited.

I find it interesting how back in the Sixties the "new journalism" was creating images with words. Writers wrote about what the subject was wearing, the smell, sounds and even what they were supposedly thinking. It is interesting pulling up the image in your mind, but is it real?

The reporter is the observer, pointing out what they were wearing and their hairdo so as to describe the person's personality. I remember how a story on an architect started off describing how casual he was dressed, but the photo taken a few days later had him dressed in a suit!? Who is lieing?

The writer was impressed with how relaxed the architect, wasn't a stuffed shirt, formal or traditional guy. Telling how his shirt wasn't tucked in led to how he had designed a new hotel with unique atrium. But the photo killed it. Words and pictures have to work together.

If  the writer had taken a photo the same day that he interviewed the architect, everything would fit together and get the message. Trouble is that taking a photo while asking questions of a subject, takes your mind off getting the best picture. This is why photojournalism suffers when the reporter is both writing and taking the photos.

Nobody seems to notice how the quality of the image has declined as we share more photos. Photos seem to be more important than ever, they pull readers into reading a blog, quickly tell what the main story is, help sum up the topic. Nobody cares about composition, does it support the story, or show something we've never seen before.

We just need to take photos to prove we were there, to share, not to inform.