Social Identity.

How do you think the role of photography in our culture is changing, when you think about how it is being used on social media like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr etc? I’m particularly interested to hear your opinions on how you think photography, particularly self portrait photography, is being used to define an individual’s identity. How is our ‘identity’ constructed through the choice of photographs we post online? 


My Response:

As humans from early Greeks to modern day we have demonstrated an interest in self-exploration. Our current ‘selfie’ craze is a revolution, which reinforces our social identity over the Internet. Sociological research shows that humans are only capable of intimately knowing 150 people, due to social networking we feel we ought to share with more, as man is a social creature and the thought of loneliness drives us mad.

The problem being is we’re rapidly collecting online friends and not distancing quantity vs. quality. In a world where time is money and we are pressured to achieve more, when it comes to socializing it takes place in real life, in real time where you cannot control how you look or what you say. We’re obsessed with building an online persona so we can present ourselves as we want to be seen, we can edit and therefore delete. We can share pictures of when we look our best; it’s endless personal promotion.

However, sacrificing mere connection for conversation is what makes us feel lonely, we claim to have all these online friends but how many of them can you spend a day with, how many can you have a personal conversation with? We share to feel connected, to define ourselves and to feel less alone but in fact it’s doing the exact opposite as you loose physical human interaction.

Technology is rapidly changing who we are as we feel more and more lonely and vulnerable we turn to social media for what we believe to be stability, a controlled network of friends. Sharing a ‘selfie’, getting likes and comments makes one feel good about themselves but what is the actual value of this? We’re slowly forgetting how to physically interact socially face to face with one another, as we feel more comfortable hiding and controlling who we are via technology.



Watermarks, are the pretentious or sensible?

I find that personally it’s the only way a photographer can protect their work from theft. We all see thousands of images floating around over the web day in and day out but unfortunately not everyone is as respectful to credit them, at least with a watermark it allows someone to view an image and if they admire it they can simply direct themselves to the artist/photographer within a web search.

Of course it seems a little pretentious and arrogant but you’re better safe than sorry, right? I’ve personally had issues in the past where I’ve taken photographs not thought much of them and posted them online, only to find a few years down the line they had been published in a magazine without any credit. It seems that a lot of photographs become more valuable over time, if we’re circulating them now without any tags they may become worthless, anonymous and overlooked.

Commercially it’s a great way to get your name out there alongside your images, it directs customers back to you for more work.

Things to be aware of is that your watermark mustn’t look tacky, it mustn’t be too big to overpower your photograph and distract from the piece but also not too small that it can be very easily removed!

I’ve found a happy medium within my own watermarks with the help of a graphic designer Zack O’Toole. Perhaps they are too distracting, perhaps they ruin the photograph but the way I see it is that if someone wishes to see more than they know where to find us… they can simply contact us to buy a print or the rights to an image. Photographers should be protecting their work, it’s not feasible for us to work for free forever. Besides I’ve never disregarded a great photograph because it had a watermark.

Controversy of Self Imprisonment.

The opening of our show, Self Imprisonment caused a lot of controversy.

We are aware that the idea was a tough subject matter to tackle, however we decided to proceed in a hope that it might create controversial debate and discussion, indeed it did exactly that.

The issues being  touchy subjects  depict a matter that a lot of people can relate to, unfortunately some were to be offended by how we had portrayed the issue. There was no intention to provoke any disrespectful intention but clearly when tackling such a huge issue it is hard to compromise with everyone’s interaction with the photographs. I now understand the importance of treading carefully when tackling a subject matter like this, it is important for there to have been a lot more discussions around the show before exhibiting it. Unfortunately motivating a group of students to do so proved harder than you’d expect as I have previously discussed.

Next time there ought to be a lot more discussion and preparation before dealing with such issues. Although creating debate and discussion is what we intended and I find the controversy exciting in some aspects. There should have been much more consideration before making any final decisions.

To clarify the idea was not intended to offend but more to portray how a certain mental state wether it be a mental illness or influence by drugs and alcohol can eventually take over and trap you within your own mind, leading to feelings of a captivity within yourself.

Self Imprisonment.

Self Imprisonment, Curation Show. 
Curation of a successful show proves much harder than you can ever imagine.
Knowing and understanding the opinions and preferences of the people you work with has a massive impact on the outcome of your show together. Sometimes decisions are not what you’d personally have liked but you compromise and work together as a team.
As a short brief within the unit there was no hope for a lot of students to take the workshop seriously, working with a large group of people proved difficult in equalling out the workload. It’s fair to say that only half of the group pulled their full potential weight whilst working on this project. Despite arranging discussions and prompting debate over our subject matter there was still a lack of response, as we were a team it was unfair that only half of us were to get on with the work while other sat back and took credit. The exhibition was not as successful as I’d have intended after waiting for others and then having to pull together last minute, however we eventually managed to produce an outcome.
The title of our show was: Self Imprisonment
Initially I was toying with the idea of alcoholism as a starting point and began to create discussion based around Richard Billingham’s work from the Ray’s a Laugh series. We agreed that we would each pick two images based around the idea. Once sharing our chosen images it was clear that we were exploring a theme of the line where drugs/alcohol/mental illness or any other issue that have the ability to take over your body and mind and have affect on the world around you, your friends, family, work, appearance, etc.
The idea is that a mental state especially under the self inflicted influence of drugs or alcohol can eventually trap you within your own mind and lead to feeling like a captive prisoner within your own soul.
Some photographs from our show, Self Imprisonment: 
Ray’s a Laugh series by Richard Billingham. 
Alcoholic Father with his Son, Unknown Photographer. 
Another Family series by Irina Popova. 
Shadow Chamber series, Recluse by Roger Ballen.
Too Brightly Burns by Remi Rebillard.
Below the Level Of Consciousness by Mark Edwards.


Discussion Forum: 

‘Instagram has ruined photography as an art form.’

‘The app Instagram which allows everyone to post photographs on the internet for the world to see has ruined the art of photography. Now, everyone is a photographer. There are filters that allow the photograph to be transformed from not very good to mediocre imagery that is now celebrated worldwide.’ 

by Kristianne Drake. 
Thursday, 13 February 2014, 12:33 PM.
My response:
Art can be appreciated primarily for it’s emotional power and beauty. If photography is simply freezing a moment in time or creating an image using light then there is no limit to how we produce images or where they are posted. Either way there will be an audience for them somewhere along the line.

Just because a photograph has been taken on a mobile phone, it is of poor quality or simply posted to instagram does not mean if can’t be appreciated by someone else.

Some of the most iconic moments of history last year were captured on mobile phone’s, these images have gone on to become widely circulated around the globe and continue to overwhelm nations.

Tim Holmes (not pictured) and his wife Tammy (second from left) huddled under a jetty for three hours with their grandchildren while their hometown in Tasmania was destroyed by wildfires.

Tim Holmes (not pictured) and his wife Tammy (second from left) huddled under a jetty for three hours with their grandchildren while their hometown in Tasmania was destroyed by wildfires.

A mobile phone is ideal for someone who is in the right place at the right time, whether they are a photographer or not. The image they create whether it be iconic or not can still be considered art to some people, even if it is just for themselves.

At David Bailey’s ‘Stardust’ exhibition in London, there is a whole section of mobile phone images. Maybe it’s all he had at the time but he still considered them to be worthy for his show as every image was hand picked by himself…

If life is only so short then who are we working to please? surely it’s ourselves…

Instagram gives anybody with access to a smartphone and internet the ability to create images to share with their family and friends, it allows people who enjoy photography as a hobby to create and share images they are proud of. What right does anyone have to deprive someone of that thrill just for the sake of saving ‘art’. Art will always exist, it’s just forever changing and we should embrace that instead of chasing old ways.