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.