Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Is Photography Dead? Consider the Process

Two shows are highlighted in Newsweek's recent article, "Is Photography Dead" The show at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, "The Art of the American Snapshot, 1888–1978 and the show at Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, "Depth of Field" are two shows the show how photography has evolved since its inception. Peter Plagens, the writer of the piece states that a "mimetic new medium" was formed in 1839 when a print was made from a negative. In other words he describes photography during that period as realism--real subjects and objects that the lens captures. He then goes on to talk about the changes in photography that occurred when everyone started taking pictures with their Kodak Instamatic and Brownie cameras. Last he moves to the postmodern days of Photoshop, image manipulation that's easy and, well...fake. Basically Plagen's asserts with reservation that photography is an "easy" medium in which to work. You take a picture with your digital camera, and, if you frame it right, you might get posted on the Internet. I think a point can be made that there is a difference between a photograph and a snapshot. One is planned from finding the right time, place of the shot to adjusting camera settings to framing and shooting. The other is a picture taken casually without much thought. Plagens focuses on post-processing (using Photoshop) as the beginning of the end of photography. It would be better to say that photography's last step (using Photoshop) is a small part of what a photographer does and when it is done it's no simple task.

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