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Thursday, 27 October 2016


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Not disagreeing with the quote at all, but I wonder if the "universalness" of photography hasn't benefited from or actually been created by the cell phone. Weren't these devices really created initially just to transmit our voices? And the crude little "cameras" on them (when ever they first appeared) were just along for the ride?

But the camera part caught on and improved - now it's almost gone full circle and I want an iPhone 7 for the camera and the "voice part" is along for the ride!

Thank you Mike and Dave Sculthorpe. A good read!

I try to learn something new every day. FH: Take the carte de visite. The idea was hugely popular and not at all dissimilar to how people are working with Instagram now. I wasn't familiar with the term, so I Googled it. It turns-out that I've seen many carte de visite owned by elderly relatives and neighbors during the 1940s. My take is that these correspond to Fuji Instax photos traded by tweens-to-college-students today.

There are several very fascinating paragraphs about photobooks. FH: I’m relatively sceptical about the present explosion of the photobook... It is closer to the vanity publishing of a few bad sonnets by Victorian poets… but actually, that does not equate to a great boom in the influencing of people through images, which is what photography at its root, was... Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that photobooks are crap, I’m saying that the job they do is not the job that they purport to do.

It's not often that I agree with an academic, but FH really knows his stuff.

BTW if you are interested in self-publishing you may find this article useful. Publishing a photography book – looking back after a year by Benn Murhaaya http://www.japancamerahunter.com/2016/10/publishing-photography-book-looking-back-year/

I hope he's at least partly wrong. Losing literacy is not a good thing. Some ideas and problems are complex and require complex literacy skills to comprehend. I don't see how photographs can replace that. Aren't they a little too much like sound bites?

"What utter nonsense. It's like suggesting that architecture is more important than music, or that golf is more important than fishing." How true! Fishing is clearly more important than golf.

Golf more more important than fishing? There's heresy but that takes the biscuit. I think if one substituted "influential" for important and "music" for photography in the quote one might be getting somewhere. I like being a photographer and I have huge respect for the masters of the craft, but the moment one starts to freight "photography" with heavy meaning it becomes something else.

John, what? Golf isn't more important than fishing. They just satisfy different interests. In fact, I've spent more on golf and fishing gear over the last year than camera stuff. But that's a reflection on my current stage in life, and not why camera sales are in decline:)

Absolute rubbish. People are generally not photographically literate. Photography workshops would not be so prevalent if that was true. One thing is taking a photo of something and another thing is shooting ABOUT something. Instagram is mostly photos of.
"The work I'm doing is in service to an idea rather than just to see what something looks like photographed. I'm trying to explore how I feel about something through photography."
Sally Mann

This is a profound comment as it comes from someone high up in the art world who is admitting that an MFA is not needed to make powerful images with important messages, “It is available to five-year-olds”.

The Roman engineer/architect Vitruvius wrote that good Architecture should have three characteristics: Firmness (be structurally sound), Commodity (be useful) and Delight (lift the spirits).

Being both an Architect and a Photographer I would argue that good Photography can provide all three: be a representation of reality, inform and lift the spirits. As much as I love the other arts they don't quite get there.

So many people ignore the fact that vastly more people communicate daily via text than ever before, using email and Facebook and texting on their phones and twitter and so forth. Teenage boys now care deeply how they come across in their text messages. They may however not value the same things that we of the old school value.

And for what "photographic literacy" means, yeah, I think we're at a high. People have been exposed to a larger and wider range of photos than ever before, and are sophisticated viewers of photos. This is not a statement about people's abilities to produce photos.

I met FH when my wife's mother wanted to find a good home for the 80 beautifully bound albums made by her uncle and guardian James A Sinclair. The subjects included travels through Britain, to Europe and the Near East, the aftermath of war in N France and Belgium, townscapes, and his family over the period 1890 to 1940.
I contacted the principal auction houses for her and FH (of Sotheby's) was much the most impressive person of those we met.
He recognised the quality of the Platinum Palladium prints and the bindings, and he explained why JAS was not so well known as other FRPS of the time.

As a mere tradesman, making, designing and selling fine cameras and Pt-Pd materials, it was not judicious to compete too hard with the wealthy amateurs who were his most lucrative clients. The albums were his private domain.

Sadly, when they came to auction in late 2008 wealthy buyers were in short supply, so they failed to make the reserve.

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