Thursday 13 January 2011

WEB207 - Topic 1.5 - Photography

1. As the introduction to this week's coursework says, "From a professional, elite and almost mythical media form, as it becomes web media photography has transformed into one of the most accessible and most banal of media forms, second only to text".  However, as Sturken says, "technologies interact with people and the forces of politics, economics, and other aspects of culture in various social and historical contexts, resulting in changes not only in the technologies themselves but also in social practices and uses".  Cobley and Haeffner quote Chalfen (1987) who says that "technological innovations are, and will continue to be, less important than culture's contribution to providing a continuity in a model and pattern of personal pictorial communication".  So while photography is now ordinary and everywhere, it's very ubiquitousness has resulted in many social and cultural changes.

2. Cobley and Haeffner quote Feldges (2008) who identifies four main genres of domestic photography - idiomatic micro-communication (where the main aim is to capture non-verbal communication such as a snapshot of a child's face on a swing), macro-communication (which is a bit vague and arty), the presentational spectacular (big, bright, clear nature-style sort of shots) and the scientific idiom (for example, closeups of a drop of water landing in a pool).  Considering that I've never heard of any of these descriptors and I personally think the majority of photographers today are just happy snapshot snappers, I'm not convinced that means that most users have a better understanding of what makes a good photograph at all - there are an awful lot of poorly framed, poorly lit and poorly taken photos out there.

3. Sturken's reading finishes with this: "images and media forms are no longer so tightly bound to the idea of representing a real, and visual technologies are no longer as pervasively regarded as replicating or objectively performing the work of the eye".  Which essentially means, you can't really "trust" photos to be a factual source of reality any more.



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