Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Democratization of Photography.

c. David Grim (taken 4/12/09)

Part of the difficulty of modern-day art photography is the task of finding interesting or original subject matter. The medium has become democratized by mass production and digital technology. For decades only those with significant resources could afford to make photographic images. That's why you don't find a lot of snapshots from the 19th century. Setting up a scene took a lot of time, and processing was cumbersome.

With the invention of the Polaroid instant camera, everything changed. Any schmuck could pull a camera out and snap a shot, enjoying the results in a very short time. There was no need to fuss with darkrooms or noxious chemicals. Suddenly there were millions of folks worldwide participating in the activity. Naturally a lot of the product was substandard or rushed.

Nowadays one need only pull out their mobile phone or other hand-held device in order to make a quality reproduction of external reality. It's harder to come up with an image that stand out among the multitudes. Several years ago I read that an artist working in the photographic medium generally has about 5-6 years of exhibiting before they run out of steam. It requires constant reinvention to keep things fresh. I'd be lying to you if I didn't identify with this challenge. Hopefully I'll continue to shoot phenomena in a way that fascinates me for a long time. For now that's my only standard.

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