My essay for Blink, on their issue on Cell phones http://goo.gl/GuOpJh
Photography starts Now
- Cell phones have made Photography into what it always set out to be: a universal and democratic language. Everyone that has a mobile phone can participate in a conversation with images, regardless of the verbal language that they speak. Photography works at its best when it can “capture” that which has no words. It is when Photography says what words cannot even begin to express that it becomes a different form of communication.
This has implications that we cannot even know at this time. Imagine how this could change our idea of illiteracy, as people who are “not literate” could communicate with images! .Imagine if we could we one day have a Hamlyn dictionary of images? A language where the words are images.In this sense, one could say Photography starts Now
- So, while Photography becomes a people’s movement , a public act and the language most people will speak, what then will a professional photographer be? But, of course, as with writing, not everyone who writes is a writer. I think Photography will become the raw material, and the ‘photographer’ will make new forms from this ‘clay’.
- What makes the difference with mobile phone photography is that people photograph with different intentions: people are not necessarily looking for ‘good ‘ photographs but for what is most important to them. So the range of what is considered ‘Photo Worthy’ gets expanded and, through this, new forms will emerge. This is exactly what Photography needs.new forms that push the limits of the medium.
- I still work mainly with Film. I like how it slows me down, how considered each frame is. But, I use my mobile phone for instagram and WhatsApp. I particularly enjoy WhatsApp as it has certainly replaced letter writing for me. When I think of someone, I send them an image that I hope also transmits how I am feeling at the time (something that conveys more than just where I am and what I am doing). This is just one of the ways that I think photographs will start replacing words in general communication.
- The whatsapp photo is like a postcard, but I also send very still videos so I can send sound as well as moving images, and sometimes only audio. So the cell phone gives me 3 different ways to communicate.
- This then leads me to the idea of the ‘moving still image.’ In the digital world, when the difference in still and movie is just a button, perhaps, the form of the future will be a still moving image, or a still image with sound. (All this is so easily done on the phone, think of when, as a mistake you think you have made a still image but have actually recorded a movie.) This in itself changes the idea of the Photographer . How then can a Photography school not teach film. It is in this very overlap, of still and movie that the new definition of Photographer could emerge.
- What we do miss in this world flooded with images, is editors. Whether that can happen as an app or still requires a person still remains to be seen, but someone has to make sense of all the billions of images that we throw out each day. Still, I will say I am surprised we do not have an App that can work as an editor. Perhaps this is something photographers will have to learn to do for themselves. How to make a poem out of their collection of ‘words’.
- Here is my photo tutorial for mobile phones. I call it, LBC.
- LIGHT- watch the light falling on that which you are drawn to photograph. Move yourself around the ‘subject’ to see if you might get better light. Moving not just left to right but up and down as well. Almost a dance around the ‘object’.
- BACKGROUND- then look at what is in the background, does it enhance your image or take away. Again move around to see if you can find the most appropriate backdrop, the least distracting. Same dance as for the light.
- CORNERS- then look to the edges of the frame and see what is in the corners. Do you want it, does it add something, can you move in or away to make the edges more defined? Personally, I think the image is about what is left out of the frame.
- Breathe- Just take a breath or two before making the image. And take just one ‘shot’. Or to slow down even more, use a tripod! Slow down. Thats it. LBC.
- But this is just making photographs, this does not make you the Author of the work. That ‘something else’, that indefinable quality, that which makes the image linger and give it resonance, is very hard to articulate. It comes, perhaps, from a honing of intuition. Which, in turn, comes from all the experience you bring, whether its the experience you gather through literature, through travel, through cinema, or just through living life. In that technology cannot help, and in that there are no short cuts.