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  • Damien Williams

Week 3: Rethinking photographers:Reflection

Updated: Sep 27, 2020

How are photographers viewed by non-photographers and what are the sources of those opinions?

It very much depends on the photographic genre considered. Quite often the photojournalist is seen with great integrity for politics and news, but with a very different ethical compass and curiosity from broader society. There is often a heroic element to the way photojournalists are viewed, which is a romanticised notion based on how they are depicted in films.

The fashion photographer is often depicted as an effeminate, possibly gender-fluid male who is in touch with the mentality of a stereotypical female model or a male predator who takes advantage of younger females. Either way there is a hyper-sexualisation of the person in this role. In addition any art photographer is seen as a diva, which employs a sense of leadership. Which is often seen as somebody seeing the world through a very different lens. Paparazzi are often seen as having a less cultured ethical view, often depicted as parasites or amoral. This view from the general public is often a projection that is reverse engineered from the images that are taken. Using imagination and supposition to personify the characteristics the members of the public believes a successful photographer would need to obtain these images. The media’s portrayal of them is also skewed and contributes to this view.

Do you think this has any impact upon how you conduct yourself as a photographer, or influences your practice in any other way?

Yes, It firstly influences how I market and communicate with clients. My choice of photography used in galleries on my website has to be much more selective. I have to work at a higher conceptual level not just on a descriptive level. In some ways I have to work in a way that caters for the lack of visual literacy. I have to sometimes work in a defensive manner, meaning when handed a phone (of other equipment) that I have no previous knowledge or experience using, I have to protect the product. Always fulfilling the expectation that my photos are better than they could produce. My practice has to be compartmentalised in order to ‘narrowly’ produce a specific range or genre of photography for marketing purposes.

Think about and describe how you have responded to changes in technology in your own practice.

I have adapted in many ways to the changes of technology. My music background and transference of my knowledge and skills in composing electronic music to editing video serves me well. So, in essence, technology and my adaptation and experience with editing software has brought me to photography. My transition from moving image to still image, has taken the opposite path. Once the megapixel development war had stopped and the mirrorless transition had settled, I quickly moved back to film. Initially it was just as a means to improve my technical practice however, holding my Canon AE-1 program (that I'd just bought for £35) there was a tactile muscular memory that just felt very natural. It's no surprise that my camera of choice is the Fujifilm XT3 which feels very much like a 1980s SLR camera. Through looking at software and my transition to using Lightroom (after using Aperture), I really wanted a medium format camera. This led to me buying a medium format camera but I could only afford film. After trying a few of these cameras in a variety of formats I have settled on 6 x 7, 645 and then 6 x 6. Each of these formats are very comfortable for me to work in (well 6 x 6 is probably mentally draining for me). I have eventually found my machines of choice, four 6 x 7 it is my Mamiya 7. For 6 x 4.5 it is my Pentax 645n, 645 format is probably my least favourite of the medium format sizes, but that is usually because the machines are not as pleasurable in a tactile fashion. And at 6 x 6 is my Yashica Mat 124G which has its own issues as it is TLR camera but the form factor allows me to communicate in a different way with my subject when taking photographs and is wonderful street photography camera. as everything is different. People walk in and out of frame the wrong way round you are looking down so you can watch the world through the ground glass rather than engaging with a camera to your eye, I rarely get to use this camera but it is very pleasurable as the results show.

The reason I don't do video now is because after one year of no video there were too many things to conform to. I feel like I need a degree just to be able to converse with other videographers. Codecs, bit rate, aspect ratio, 4K, 1080p, I feel like it all gets in the way. I've got very used to picking up the camera and shooting.

So my response to technology is varied. I like technology that allows me to do more sometimes just simplifying the process so that I can think deeper. However Technology that is there to exclude sharing, Technology that exists within one company there is either have to be named differently or not shared in order to make money, is an unnecessary burden on my time and energy and does not allow me to tell a story in an unencumbered fashion.

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