Last night, I attended the San Francisco Art Commission panel: Are We All Photographers Now? Flickr/JPG Magazine Breakthrough Exhibition with Allison and Sarah, fellow Blurberati.
The panelists represented different areas of the photography world: social photo sharers, fine artists, and photojournalists. While they all had different perspectives on the modern culture of photography, they seemed to agree that everyone can be considered a photographer, but becoming a professional requires practice, desire, and some sort of differentiation from the masses.
If that sounds ambiguous, that’s because it is. That was the point the speakers made: Photography itself has become ambiguous as the lines between amateurs and professionals have blurred. Many other topics were discussed:
- The history of photography and how digital technology has made photography more affordable and accessible.
Derek Powazek, founder of JPG magazine, told a story of the old days when each sound of the shutter cost him 25 cents, and how the digital format enabled him to become a better photographer, do new things with photography, and get more immediate feedback on his shots.
- The community around photography: sharing, privacy, online etiquette, and copyright.
Heather Champ, Community Manager at Flickr, talked about the power of sharing, taking responsibility for the images we post online, and how anyone can curate their own virtual exhibits by following links through Flickr Groups or Favorites.
- One must learn technique and style to create truly engaging images.
J.D. Beltran, artist and professor, said everyone is capable of becoming a fine art photographer through practice and learning what makes a photograph successful. Engaging people through photographs can be studied and mastered; this is the path to being a fine art photographer.
- Photography in the newsroom means having a good editor, a good eye for spot news photography, and a journalist’s code of ethics.
Deanne Fitzmaurice, Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist, highlighted the process of filing her shots and how having a good editor has made her a better photographer. In addition, she said that photojournalists abide by a strict code of ethics, such as not setting up news shots, and never “photoshopping” an image. (It’s unacceptable in photojournalism.)
Overall, it was a little interesting, a little boring, and a little thought provoking. We wanted to be very apropos and have a photo taken of us at the event that we’d then post here. The woman sitting in front of us refused to snap our photo, but we’re not bitter or anything.