Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Future of Photography

For the New Year...I thought I'd write about where I think Photography is going.

I love L.A.,  or at least my visual corner of it. This is a city made of fantasy, and that's where I find my inspiration - in this delicious mix of style and fantasy. An avid film lover, I cut my visual teeth on a combination of Blade Runner, One from the Heart and Fool for Love. Those films fascinated me in their ability to start with threads of the "real" and then build their own vision on top of that. Ten, fifteen years ago, it was unusual for a film to create a new visual world - now it's the norm...often whether we know it or not. Our vision of the world is slowly being remade to blend the divide between what we know to be real and what is not.

Recently I read a review of the film Lincoln and it occurred to me when they discussed the visual approaches used ("the smaller, plainer America of the mid-19th century evoked by the brownish chiaroscuro of the cinematography") that this is the new frontier of visual communication. Our recent dialog in photography has focused on film vs. digital...but I think we were missing the boat on that one. We should have been exploring the much broader world that digital was leading us to - a massive break from the age-old connection between photography and representation. By making the capture digital, we forever broke the idea of "image as documentation" and instead moved into a world where all is equal...copies, edits, composites...they are all originals, they can all feel "real." 

Also, along the way, digital removed the photographer as technology's gate-keeper, since now anyone can take an image. When you add the boom in social networking and the life-changing explosions of smart phones and has remade the world we live in. In many ways, video games are setting the pace with their visions of dystopian alternative realities while opening up our expectations of what images should accomplish and how our environments could look.

So, what do I see as the future for photography...or photographers? Our future (or one of our futures) is to push the boundaries of what our world looks like, with a vision that gives texture to each frame.

Here are a few photographers I think are worth watching:

Erik Johansson: Many of these guys are also retouchers...he's one of the best with a nice sense of humor.

Dariusz Klimczak: Wonderful work, interesting characters.

Rocky Schenck: I've loved his work for ages, strong sense of place and mood.

Alison Carey: Both a photographer and sculptor, she creates new worlds and then photographs them beautifully.

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