Dean O'Brien's Blog

351mc Photography and Narrative: Seminar: ‘What Matters Now?’

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Today’s lecture looked into the work of Fred Ritchin, and part of this was that I read chapter 6 ‘Beginning the Conversation’ from Fred Ritchin’s ‘After Photography’ book.  This was thoroughly interesting and not what I initially expected.

Much better was to come as this was followed by a recording of Fred Ritchin in class.  He discussed many issues affecting photographers today and after this we had the chance to discuss what Fred meant by some of his statements

What Fred mentioned that really made me think was when he said that photography is no longer a technical question.  What is the important bit is ‘what one is going to say and how they are going to say it’.  Going on to say that ‘It is very backward thinking of us if we only think of our work as camera based’.  ‘There is nothing wrong with asking the reader to work a little bit harder’.  I gather that the point that Fred was trying to get across is that we all need to change our ways.  He stated ‘Isn’t it naive of ourselves to think that our subjects do not know about media’.

Far too often as a photographer I viewed my finished work as a ‘print’ an nothing more.  But that has started to change.  Not because it has been forced upon me but because I know that unless I start to engage my audience in other ways I cannot see myself moving forward.  He goes on to say that the answer lies in narrative.  The ability to engage the reader or viewer.

So where are many modern day image makers failing?  Well Fred points out that the tendency seems to be be ‘I want to do it how they did 10 or 15 years ago, but we have to remember that they never had our means of technology’.

He spoke about ‘citizen journalists’, mobiles phones and Flickr.  Mentioning that just because they are not professional photographs this does not mean that they (the person who made the images) are not professional in another field, which may benefit the image they made.  Going on to mention that cell phone images can appear to be ‘more believable’.

Jonathan worth spoke to me the previous week about following a ‘non linear’ approach to my own work.  Non linearity makes it possible to make more choices.  As Jonathan pointed out ‘Exploration of the world does not have an end’.


Written by Dean O'Brien

November 9, 2011 at 8:01 pm

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