Symposium First Full Draft

Below is a copy of my first finished draft at the moment it seems to be to long coming in at around 12 minutes with a bit of cutting and chopping i think i will be able to amend it to a better finalised piece


Since the birth of photography the medium has been on a course of constant transformation,One influence has been widely considered more influential than others that being technology. In todays world we are all accustomed to the simple technology that surrounds us, in the context of photography  the mass majority of people are constantly carrying a device with image taking capability, this rise of digital technology in recent years has developed so far to a point which has enabled anybody with the available equipment be it a mobile phone or compact camera, to take the technical skill out of the image taking process all together and capture both stills and video with complete ease. Looking back at the history of the photographer it has always been that to be a  professional photographer you would have to learn the trade and understand the equipment  and the complexity of the image making process that would seem alien to someone new to the medium, comparing such a process to the photographers of today  we find ourselves in quite the opposite scenario, unlike the past, ever simplifying photographic technology has increased the amount of “photographers” be them amateur or professional. Taking the rise of photographers and the amount of cheap simple equipment on the market into account  it is obvious that this must be having an effect on what exactly is it is to be a photographer, one area which strikes me as taking the brunt of the rise of amatuer photographer is photojournalism. Every Day whether in a digital or print format we encounter images in the media that are supplied by the photojournalist ,but it is becoming ever more common to see articles accompanied by amateur images some of good quality, some bad, but still the rise in these sorts of images is clear, in a world which seeks instant information 24 hours a day it seems ever more impossible for the professional photojournalist to survive competing against the technology which gives a passerby or budding amatuer with their mobile phone who is in the right place at the right time to get the shots that will sell.

To understand the current state of Photojournalism it is key to look back and recognise the major shifts that have occurred within the medium. Within Photojournalism the shifts have been momentous causing the role of a photojournalist to change over the years. The origins of the modern photojournalist stem back to the early 1990’s, this time proved to be one of considerable change in photography as it ushered in the digital era,  although work had been taking place for years before to create electronic devices the 1990’s signalled
the start of the consumer level digital camera, once a piece of technology and equipment left only to the professionals it was now available to the public allowing the budding photographer to capture and transfer images .

The first Digital camera  release was seen on 17th February 1994  with the Apple QuickTake 100, over the coming two years multiple manufacturers such as Kodak, Casio and Sony embraced the digital age releasing their own consumer level digital cameras. From the 90’s onwards the race to simplify and make photography available to the masses had begun, the oncoming years saw the gradual progression of the digital format seeing the release of newer digital cameras on a regular basis. As this technological drive took hold of Photography  it also took hold of other areas of life one such being mobile communication, almost in unison the digital camera and the mobile phone had developed and after a short while the integration process began with technology once again pushing the boundaries for Photography. Alongside photography Camera and Mobile Phone Integration had been trialed by Apple in the early 1990’s with varying degrees of success , unlike the speed of the digital camera’s progression the aim of integrating it with a mobile phone  took longer to become mainstream.

The dawn of the new millennium saw the next major technological shift, by this point the digital camera was well on its way to the form we know now with compact digital cameras readily available to the mass market, By 2002 Nokia released the 7650 which was the first device of its kind with an integrated camera and the ability to share media to large numbers.

2004 saw the release of the Nokia 3220 which was the first device of its kind to have a camera with internet capability  once again allowing media to be shared to an even larger network, during the years following, the desire to improve the technology took hold with manufacturers like Motorola, Sony Ericsson and  LG making it commonplace to integrate cameras into their mobile devices. Throughout the 2000’s the race was on to create a new type of technology one which had everything that was needed in one device, the camera, internet and mobile communication, by creating such a device photography was going  to experience its largest shift yet unlike the digital shift the introduction of the mobile camera phone promised to enable anyone who owned a readily available device the chance to capture images instantly  with more ease and simplicity than ever before, creating the foundations for the photographic world in which we find ourselves today.

In 2013 Photojournalism seems different to what is once was, after some 15 years of technological progression photojournalism has changed with the times. In recent years the rise of the smartphone has transformed Photography completely, in 2007 Apple released the iphone followed 2 years later with google releasing their smartphone, with apps such as instagram , high quality cameras and multiple communication platforms the Smartphone has revolutionised Photography as a whole making available a tool which can capture images and be shared instantly at the tap of a button.

In a profession which once required a photographers to go away for months at a time and shoot endless rolls of film with a lengthy process from beginning to end it now seems impossible to be true to the practice of a photojournalist. With technology swiftly improving photojournalism finds itself  taking a backseat to a new type of journalism “ Citizen Journalism”, “The collection, dissemination, and analysis of news by the public, by means of mobile phones, digital cameras”, this new type of journalism has increased at a resounding rate. In 2012 at the 6sight Future of Imaging Conference it was revealed that worldwide 741 million people own a mobile device with image taking capability and with 91% of smartphone users taking a single photograph at least once a month it clearly illustrates the rising number of amatuer photographers.

Many of the stats are reflected in the popularity and abundance of mobile imagery that can be found, for example  in October 2012 Hurricane Sandy struck the  west coast of  America, in the midst of the chaos and devastation that was left in its wake , large numbers of people took to the streets equipped  with mobile phones, cameras and internet and began to document, taking to social media people we able to share their images with millions at an instant. At the time Time magazine chose to cover the event through the use of Instagram, with a feed that attracts 261 000 followers Time magazine also sent out their own photographers to  cover the event using the app, 5 photographers in total were sent to cover the event through the live feed. In an article published in Forbes magazine Time’s director of photography, Kira Pollack said “We just thought this is going to be the fastest way we can cover this and it’s the most direct route,” the feed proved so successful that it gained 12 000 followers over the 48 hour period adding more users to the ever expanding network. The popularity of these images proved so successful that in the November 2012 issue of Time Magazine, A Instagram photograph shot by Benjamin Lowy featured as the cover image .Proving that the strength of the technology we find ourselves with has the power to compete with what was once traditional and in the case be extremely successful.

Taking into account the number of device owners and the rise of people creating and sharing their own images and finding others with more ease than before, it seems as though this form of image taking has become the norm, with more and more media channels and papers choosing to use amatuer citizen journalism over a professional image. In January 2012 In an online article the guardian Executive Commercial director  stated that “the loss-making newspaper was moving towards an “open vision for journalism”, whereby laypeople, who may not have any formal expertise, will be allowed the key to the media groups future” such a statement from a national media group shows how the media have been forced to adapt alongside technology, clearly this response from the group demonstrates how Photojournalism is today. In a world where major news events are first broadcast on social media and photography applications, the pace of photojournalism has had to step up a gear leaving the future for the professional photojournalist uncertain.

With the future  of photojournalism hanging in the balance, what is next for the Photojournalist?. Accepting the way technology has enhanced photography is key, as i previously mentioned the world we live in now shows a clear and fast progression of the medium, in 15 years we have found ourselves moving from Technical film Cameras to  simple Digital  multi functional devices if the next 15 years holds as much progression as the last i feel there is only one way photojournalism can go. I believe as time progresses photojournalism will become an ever more open and shared form of photography,In a medium that is defined by who it supplies for,financial implications play a key role and with the accessibility to free imagery rising  this type of amature photojournalism can only grow in the coming years, with the tools we have available and the empowerment that comes with them it will be almost impossible to stem the flow of the citizen Photojournalist, with an ever growing database of imagery coming from various social media sites , in the future it would be ignorant for the media to ignore such a large source  with 6.9 Million users logging onto twitter daily and with instagram gaining 100 Million users in just over 2 years the competition is ever present, i believe if neglected such users will turn to the media they contribute two leaving the recognised media virtually extinct.

Already we are seeing photographs anticipating the next change in Photojournalism two examples can be seen in the work of Balazs Gardi and Teru Kuwayama who in September 2010 whilst embedded with US Marines produced a series of photographs shot on Iphones for Foreign Policy Magazine, these images were a breakthrough for Photojournalism, for the first time images were produced solely on a handheld mobile device. Unlike professional photographers on the most part Kuwayama credits the Iphone as a useful device drawing on its lightweight sealed body which is perfect for shooting in the dusty environment of Afghanistan. With advancements In Digital image clarity rapidly improving the evolution of photojournalism seems far from complete.

Considering all the technological innovations photojournalism has experienced throughout its existence it still remains sought after, although as a medium it has had to develop and change in order to stay relevant to the masses, even through change it has always been a relevant source of information. In an article by Professor David Campbell  in March 2010 he said “As a practice, as a mode of information, photojournalism and documentary photography is very much alive is because over the last fifty years it has not tied its entire future to modes of distribution that are now undergoing revolutionary changes. That future has many challenges, but it is a future that has already moved well beyond the fortunes of newspapers and magazines.” for me this quote solidifies the fact that Photojournalism as a form of Image taking will always be desired, for a small few in the future it may stay the same working professionally as a photojournalist, but on mass due to the evolution of the media which Photojournalism is provided for, the amount of Citizen provided photojournalism can only increase. The media which Photojournalism is shared through will continue on a constant path of technological transformation shaping itself but never shaping Photojournalism as a form of information as whether shot from a mobile device or from a digital SLR the need to report information will stay unharmed by the technological shifts that surround it.


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