Photography is enjoying one of its biggest boom periods ever. It is accessible to just about anyone, and we are currently a long way from the early days of the artform. It’s amazing how quickly this has occurred. Just over a century ago, photography was a serious experience. You only have to see old photos of people posing in a sombre manner to understand the change that has been happening. A snap of someone smiling was as rare then as a selfie without a pout is today.
Even twenty or thirty years ago, photographers could not have imagined how things have changed. And, it’s all down to the explosion of online media and the availability of modern technology. Everyone has a camera these days – on their smartphone or even their music player. But, it’s the digital landscape that has given everyone a platform to share those photos. Without the Internet, it is doubtful there would be quite so many people taking photos.
Not everyone is happy about this new scenario, of course. Professional photographers are irked. All those years of training are being overlooked by people whose only interest is to see what their fave celeb is having for dinner. And, of course, the rise of digital image processing means that all those hours spent in a darkroom are void. You can just use a cheap – or free – app on your phone to add filters and effects instead.
Democratization is the key phrase to link to photography these days. And, it is understandable why so many professional are dismayed with recent events. Their livelihoods are at stake and so many amateur ‘photographers’ are out here. Plus, with so much uploading to social media sites, there is plenty of evidence of oversaturation.
That said, there is no doubt that the digital age is reshaping the artform of photography. Instagram, the selfie, and Photoshop tweaks are all as common as the air everyone breathes these days. It’s also fair to say that photography has always struggled with the notion it is an art form anyway. While some critics laud photographs as art, others see it as a capturing of a moment rather than an authentic slice of creativity. And, thanks the digital age, it seems as though the evidence is pointing to the latter.
People are creating shots these days, rather than taking snapshots of ‘real’ life. When you look at Instagram and see people portraying their lives, it is hard to imagine what you are seeing is the truth. It’s fakery in the vast majority of cases – storytelling, for sure, but also spinning enormous yarns. Portrait photography always used to be about taking a glimpse of the window of the soul. These days, it is more like a version of a soul that someone wants you to see.
So, clearly, there is a lot of evidence that photography is changing. And, as the digital era continues to grow and take over more people’s lives, no doubt it will change even more. The next few years will be interesting, to say the least.