I have selected to write about the image Giorgia (2009-10) Vanessa Winship
When I read the commentary and then took time to look at the photo I felt that the commentary (as is often the case) brings in some sense of abstraction to its description. This is what I think Sekula was discussing in his previous article: the way that we can mythologize the subject of the photo or identify it in some way as having universal meaning. When I look at the photo of the small girl there is definitely for me a sense of sadness in her face. Then comes a sense that she is perhaps just not of a particularly up-beat temperament. I find no need to organise the photo in terms of ‘vulnerability’ which is essentially a value judgment or ‘directness of gaze’ which one can see in any number of portraits.
So if I am honest, the description does not add to my appreciation or interest in the photo. The person in the photo I feel, has something that they are saying with their gaze: they are showing their perhaps fleeting emotional state in that moment or that their counternance is simply a bit sad.
Levy’s comments Foto8
In general I enjoyed Levy’s presentation. Generally he seemed open minded towards the subject of photojournalism and that many people can present work with a personal interpretation. He acknowledges that strict boundaries between genres are disappearing and that the personal (more subjective) can combine with a more traditionally photojournalistic methodology.
I found that I warmed quite easily to his point of view and probably share his opinions to some extent with some of my own ideas being similar. However, there is one question that comes to mind, that I find difficult to answer. The fact that photography is now so democratic and accessible means that many professionals will find themselves on the same ‘playing field’ as the amateur who fancies taking a few snaps of local events. This brings up issues of training, study and professionalism and an ability to see and understand the broader context.
Of course, as Bainbridge mentions, the space for professional journalistic work in print is dwindling. This is largely because of the internet and how images are now consumed. But there is perhaps a lot of real talent out in the world that does not get seen because it is competing with more untrained presentations. Obviously one can’t assume that the trained studied photographer is going to be better at the job than someone that has no background in photography but likes to play with a camera and has some sensibility to composition etc. How do we handle this in the contemporary world? Also, is there a danger in this plethora of images, of a saturation of stories and images as everyone tries to tell a story?