Photo synthesis - let's all capture the moment
TAKE OFF:‘What’s the best way to make money as a photographer? Sell your camera.” I’ve got friends who are professional travel photographers and times are hard out there in snapper land, hence the jokes going round in emails and on the internet. And the joke that cuts closest to the bone?
“Someone buys a professional camera and that makes them a professional photographer, they buy a professional flute and, well, they just own a flute.”
With the digital revolution everyone’s a photographer now. And all those photographs can be “published” on the internet for the world to see. Which makes everyone a professional photographer in every sense, except actually getting paid. But it does mean that there are a lot of travel photos around these days. Some good, some awful, some stunning. Lots of them.
Once photographs were rare and unique documents brought back from remote corners of the world, showing people from different cultures wearing bizarre costumes or involved in surprising rituals. Travel photographers were intrepid characters who trekked around the world carrying expensive, heavy cameras and lenses, and bags of bulky film, to get those pictures.
Back then, serious photographers needed technical knowledge of ASAs and f-stops and “bracketing” and they had to have the artistic eye needed to compose a shot and capture the moment, but above all they needed to be strong as mules to carry all that kit. Early travel photographs were often unique and striking for no other reason than someone was able to get a camera to where no camera had been before.
But nowadays everyone has a camera built into their phone. And, unlike film, digital storage is essentially free. No-one except the most exacting of photographers has to think about how they’ll take a photo. We see something interesting and we “click”.
And the world is full of interesting things so we all “click” over and over again. There have been more pictures taken in the past few years than in the whole previous 150 years of photographic history. The world has never been so recorded.
At events it’s become a form of audience participation. At a festival of Berber music in the Atlas mountains local villagers trekked in on foot or by donkey from the local villages in the surrounding hinterland. I could hear a constant background rhythm of “kerchics” as hundreds of mobile phones – an essential item for any Moroccan under 30 – snapped the event. Over and over. I took pictures of the audience taking pictures.
Henri Cartier-Bresson took some of the world’s most iconic photographs. He once said, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” Well, with digital technology we can all snap out a few thousand images in a single holiday. I guess we’re all on the way to becoming pretty good photographers.