Photography has been around for long
Over the decades starting from late 19th century, photography has grown from a niche skill to a popular art form transforming the medium of visual communication by leaps and bounds. Advertising photography & photojournalism have traditionally formed the bulk of photographic work available the world over and influenced society in a significant ways. (Read my post ‘Power of Photography’ to know more).
Today, with the emergence of compact cameras, smartphones and DSLRs, almost anyone can click a decent photo. But, does owning a camera make you a photographer? Or is anybody with a camera in hand, a photographer? A cursory look at popular Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram etc. will throw up hundreds of pages owned by ‘photographers’ who post anything from wedding shots, to pictures of butterflies & insects. Further, rise of Stock Photography platforms like ShutterStock, Getty Images etc. to name a few has created a huge marketplace for buying & selling still images as trade -able commodities. While these developments have brought rapid democratization and commercialization of photography, it’s important to distinguish genuine photography from this trend in popular imagination.
Is Photography as we know it dying?
Being a photographer, I have been asked this question a many times. My answer to this is very simple. Photography is not dead. It is being redefined, reshaped and retouched. The flood of photos on the internet, beautified and altered with liberal usage of Photoshop has trumped the real art & meaning of photography. But, a handful of revolutionary photo artists, are changing the face of modern age photography with the power of their vision and their zeal towards making a difference.
Noted photographer, Milton Rogovin the torchbearer of social documentary photography brought forth the light, strength and dignity of lower working class through this lens. Conferred with the coveted, W. Eugene Smith Award for Documentary Photography in 1983, Milton and his wife Anne captured images of miners, mill workers, soldiers that reflected their pride and honor despite their humble living conditions.
One of my inspirations is noted humanitarian photographer, Esther Havens. With a goal of ensuring safe and hygienic living conditions, Esther consistently brings out the high spirits of her subjects who belong to some of the most neglected sections of African society. Through her images, she showcases the beauty and aura with which her subjects continue to live in the harshest circumstances with a smile. She is one of the most sought-after photographers in the social good sector.
Unsuccessful career and seeking purpose in life, 29-yr old Brandon Stanton faced immense mockery and criticism when he decided to photograph 10,000 New-Yorkers and tell their stories to the world. Now associated with the United Nations, Brandon’s “Humans of New York” project is touching hearts across the globe. His Facebook page, brimming with over 12 million followers, showcases stories of people of every age, orientation, race and education spreading the message of compassion and hope in everyday life.
What lies ahead?
Photography is beyond the hardware and the software. Great pictures are born out of a vision, willingness to do something good and a positive perception towards life. Technological advances may have made photography a quick chore but its true greatness lies in bringing one’s unique perspective to it.
Goes without saying- Will be happy to hear your views.