I’m generally reluctant to read the Guardian, and sometimes wary of those of Guardian persuasion for reasons and biases too entrenched to get into here. That said, they’ve recently reported some words of a rather famous photographer, Don McCullin, whose work in conflict areas around the globe I’ve admired for some time. Many photographers say a lot of things but what he said, and where he said it, and to whom, that’s caught the attention of many (including myself), and I’d venture to say many of you as well.
He’s a new entry in the octogenarian club and spoke recently at an event where he was honored as a master of photography at Photo London. Of course as respected photojournalist for major publications for decades his words certainly carried some extra weight, especially when he drops a line like, “…digital photography can be a totally lying kind of experience…”
This is the kind of statement that draws a line in the sand for many with few who straddle it, and there’s been a lot of chatter about it. However, the entirety of what he said has been reduced to the most poignant punchline devoid of context. He wasn’t actually demonizing digital photography necessarily, but rather felt in many ways it had been ‘hijacked” due to the fact,
…the digital cameras are extraordinary. I have a dark room and I still process film but digital photography can be a totally lying kind of experience, you can move anything you want … the whole thing can’t be trusted really.
He went on further to speak about how he has always viewed photography as less an art form but more a way of communicating and passing on accurate information. It seems as if digital images don’t do that as much, and is more art than photography. This is, interestingly, quite opposite in many ways to my favorite British photographer, David Bailey, who has famously referred to himself as an artist but not a photographer. McCullin clearly finds it quite fine to be called a photographer only,
Many people misunderstand me – I’m quite happy to be called a photographer. All of a sudden the art world has caught up with photography and they are trying to hijack us.
However, even as he has said this, he does mention that it’s probably due to the type of work he does, that requires a sort of embracing of violence in wars and revolutions and famines, where he finds it difficult to be artful rather then represent what’s there. To this end, he has shot and still shoots film, he develops at his house. It seems he doesn’t like the over saturation of the digital images. Of course, this is just one person’s view, and one of more a journalistic nature, but I tend to feel the same, or similar.
I see a torrent of images all the time, perhaps more than most, and what I’m seeing is just an overabundance of over saturated images I feel a massive disconnect from because the scene has been so altered. And while it may be somewhat interesting to look at briefly, it’s not all art, and it doesn’t all mean something. Interestingly too, is that the working professionals I’ve known and met in fashion and commercial and fine art, all seem to think the same. It’s Art Basel here in Miami, and many galleries just aren’t looking for massively altered saturated images. It seems we may be moving away from that to something more raw. I’m all for it, but I’m just another young man with an opinion. What’s yours?
Source: The Guardian