Below is my Final draft unlike the previous draft which came in around 12 minutes, this final draft comes in just over 9, since the last script I have had to take out a lot of linking text which I have written to bind the speech together, although removing over 400 words I still believe it has a nice flow and will run smoothly on the day.
CONTINUAL TECHNOLOGICAL SHIFTS AND THE THREAT TO PHOTOJOURNALISM
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 today’s world we are all accustomed to the simple technology that surrounds us, with the majority of people 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, to take the technical skill out of the image taking process altogether. Looking back at the history of photography, in the past to capture images it was key to understand the equipment and alien process, 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. With this rise of photographers and technology this must be having an effect on what exactly is it is to be a photographer, one area which seems heavily affected is photojournalism.
To understand the current state of Photojournalism it is key to look back and recognise the major shifts that have occurred within the medium. 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 embraced the digital age releasing their own 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. 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 trialled 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 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, during the years following, the desire to improve 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, the camera, internet and mobile communication, by creating such a device photography was set to experience its largest shift yet unlike the digital shift the introduction of the mobile camera phone promised to enable anyone who owned a mobile camera device the chance to capture and share images instantly .
Now In 2013 after some 15 years of technological progression photojournalism has changed with the times. In recent years the rise of the Smartphone has transformed Photography, in January 2007 Apple released the Iphone followed a year later with Google releasing their Smartphone, with Photography 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.
With technology swiftly improving photojournalism finds itself competing with 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.
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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 across the Eastern Seaboard 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 was going to be the fastest way we can cover this and the most direct,” 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, An 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
With the rise of mobile photography and with more and more media channels and papers choosing to use amateur citizen journalism over a professional image, it seems as though this form of image taking has become the norm, 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. 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 uncertain, what is next?. 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 amateur 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 too leaving the recognised media virtually extinct.
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Already we are seeing photographers 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.
Considering all the technological innovations photojournalism has experienced throughout its existence it still remains sought after, aside from the ever changing technology the eye of the photographer and the skill of composing an image has withstood change.
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. 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.
Whilst looking at Teru Kuwayama’s I came across an interview about Base track, Base track was a platform fronted by Kuwayama which was comprised of photographers following Marines in Afghanistan, unlike many other platforms images were uploading online to the Base track website providing a new type of open communication through Photography. I came across the video below in which Teru talks about base track and his use of Iphones when shooting in Afghanistan.
” You don’t need to have a CNN bureau and you don’t need 50.000 dollars of gear and you don’t need to have a camera this big to do this work, what were interested in is recording information making pictures connecting people making and recording the things were interested in if that can be done with a camera that fits in my pocket, dust proof and has such a huge storage capacity that I can use it for 6 months its amazing”
I found this video a great insight into the thinking of a modern photojournalist a few comments stood out to me after watching the interview, one of the main areas which interested me was the section about the use of Iphones, unlike some photojournalists Kuwayama talks about the great quality of the Iphone, he talks of the HD video, High Quality camera, Mass of storage space, its lightweight body. After watching the interview the credit Kuwayama gave to the Iphone stood out to me as I had not heard many positives about the rise of simplified technology.
“I don’t think technology is a threat to it I think it enables it and ultimately what is changing with the technology is that it is becoming accessible and a lot of elements we thought as the craft of photography is no longer relevant”
“Its becoming as simple as point and shoot if that’s threatening to professional photographers I think id suggest that maybe their photography was not good enough to begin with if just simplifying the technology is undermining their value”
All quotes taken from interview with Teru Kuwayama
After tidying up my slideshow and referencing everything contained in it clearly, I have now decided upon the final layout for the slides below is a gallery with some screenshots of the presentation.
So since looking into the use of mobile photography I have come across a large source of imagery taken from the 2012 Hurricane Sandy which struck the east of America, although there was a large amount of imagery coming from the event in real time from amateur and professional sources one set of images caught my eye in particular whilst looking through some images I came across some of the photographs below having considered the quality of the images I was keen to find out the source, after a simple look around online I was made aware that the images came from a group of five photographers Michael Christopher Brown, Benjamin Lowy, Ed Kashi, Andrew Quilty and Stephen Wilkes.These photographers had been commissioned by TIME magazine to cover the event across the eastern seaboard, using mobile camera phones and instantly uploading images to the Internet via TIME magazines Instagram feed, these images struck me once i found out their origin not only did they show the ability of professional photographers to portray informative images via a mobile device but these image also show in some way the changing times of the media as a whole. the fact the a magazine as recognised as time has chosen to send out their photographers using devices that are commonplace to the everyday man illustrated what is the beginning of the next shift in technology and photography
Below are some images that I have decided to feature in my symposium
One Photograph from TIME magazines collection was the photograph below this image shot by Benjamin Lowy was chosen to feature as the cover image on the November issue of the magazine, finding this out reaffirmed to me the success of the photographs produced, and by Time choosing to use this image shows the way in which the stigma around simplified photographic technology maybe starting to fade and the use of such equipment may rise with in the processional world.
Below is a copy of an article I recently came across focused on the work of Balazs Gardi & Teru Kuwayama, written in July 2011 the article focuses on the pair use of mobile phones whilst away embedded with marines in Afghanistan.
” Hipstamatic, as its name suggests, is an iPhone app more associated with dilettantish hipsters than hardened war photographers. But the application, which allows iPhone users to take digital “Polaroids”, has become the camera of choice for two experienced photojournalists who spent much of the last year embedded with a battalion of the US marines in Afghanistan.
“We didn’t go out there expecting to use Hipstamatic,” says one of them, New York-based Teru Kuwayama, who first photographed Afghanistan – somewhat more conventionally – in 2004. “We had several different cameras, lenses and video recorders,” he says. But the pair settled on Hipstamatic both because of its retro aesthetic and because the iPhone “was the ideal, rugged piece of gear for southern Afghanistan”. With its simple touch-screen, it didn’t trap dust like larger cameras do, which was particularly handy in a desert location.
“Before, I would have three cameras hanging off me,” agrees his colleague, Hungarian Balazs Gardi, who was also on his second Afghan mission. “Using just the iPhone allowed me to move much more easily.” The lack of a long lens also helped, Gardi says, because it forced him to get closer to his subjects. As a result, he and Kuwayama have created an unusually intimate series of portraits of both Afghan civilians, and US servicemen.
Kuwayama and Gardi were part of a new journalistic endeavour, known as Basetrack, that aims to bypass mainstream media and provide a personal news source for the friends and family of serving marines. Aided by a small network of writers, the photographers self-published articles and photos through their Facebook page, Twitter feed, and WordPress website. “The iPhone is this ubiquitous thing that everyone has got in their pocket,” says Kuwayama. “It fitted with our idea of demystifying journalism.”
Would the pair use the iPhone again? “Not as a phone – it never even had a sim card,” says Gardi. “But I’ve used it as my prime camera ever since.” “
“One agency that has actively been using Instagram is Luceo, which until recently included David Walter Banks, Kendrick Brinson, Matt Eich, Kevin German, Daryl Peveto and Matt Slaby. “Instagram is, to 2012, what photoblogging was to 2007,” say Peveto and Slaby in an email conversation. “Not only does it offer an immediate and interactive way for our fans to be a part of our work as it happens, it also allows us to engage with other visual professionals and receive real-time feedback on work as it is being produced.”
Recently I have been following a few article of the British Journal of Photography, in recent months there have been many features based around the theme of the changing face of photography and photojournalism be through technological advances or others, the article above is one such that i came across which talks about photojournalism and the rise of Instagram and the effect this is having on photojournalism as we know it, in a world where photography apps are common place, photography is changing and photojournalism as we know it.