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All of the elements of the Educational Program are merely references and guidelines we are proposing for the museums to consider within their own activities.
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LECTURE 5

Title
The photographer today

Audience:
To anyone in the public interested in analyzing how the role of the photographer is radically changing with technological advances as the need arises to rethink the profession and its social function.

Subject matter:
What is the role of the photographer today? It seems to be a simultaneously obvious and absurd question. However, any attempt to respond leads to a void. Why do we need photographers today when all of us are photographers?

“Recently I’ve gotten many complaints about how the digital age has turned everyone in the world into a photographer,” says Pedro Meyer in editorial #70. “With so many people armed with cameras, photographers feel threatened that their means of making a living might be diminished, so they take on a defensive attitude.

There are those who believe that only individuals who understand the photographic process should be capturing images and that their overproduction does nothing more than devalue the medium as a logical consequence of any inflationary process.”


It might be suffocating, worrying, and even terrifying for photographers to think that these changes are leaving them out in the cold. What is important is to rethink the way one works.

In editorial #81 Meyer continued on the subject:
“So, instead of feeling pity for oneself, it is better to take the next step and ask oneself what’s next? How can a photographer survive in today’s world?

The market is changing all the time and what might be a good solution today, might not be so great in a year or two.

In general, it seems to be that a great change has taken place in the size and scope of the market for photographic work done by independent photographers. Nowadays, there are a large number of solutions for those who need photos to illustrate whatever they need and they no longer need to hire photographers to carry out this task.”


However, one might also think about the quantity of images taken by professional photographers that are produced and published every day, which could be in the thousands. Publicity relies heavily on the photographic image and generally those companies that take their brand seriously hire professional photographers. In art, photography is one of the genres that is sold the most and prices can reach thousands of dollars. Society depends on this medium for almost everything that has to do with communication, education, science, and business. Many photographers are becoming millionaires, while many others are not, but that happens in all professions; the problem resides in how society is structured.

For many years, we understood that one of the photographer’s main functions was to document. That has not changed, but all images are in some way documents. The notion of the photographer traveling all over the world with his Leica in hand taking wonderful photos for a magazine is no longer so common.

The documentary genre continues to be important, but now it is digital and its most important forum for distribution is the Internet, with an occasional exhibition or book, which has forced many photographers in this area to rethink their function and the way they can continue to work in the field. The documentary video is currently enjoying a sort of heyday and although an image in movement and a fixed one are not the same, they both continue to be images and documents; so it can offer a possibility.

In editoral #78 Meyer offered the following reflection:
“Furthermore, the process of the democratization of information has sparked a strong reaction to restrict the use of the new digital tools, including photography.

As the use of all of these new tools advances to explore the narrative of stories in the digital age, most societies on the planet try to severely restrict its use.
I am certain there is a direct relationship with the ease of its use. It has granted power to the average citizen to express his or her own point of view, which evidently escaped the traditional means of control used by the powerful.”


Photographers must not only rethink their social function, but also the very way they take photos; they must assume that they are working with a technological medium whose nature is in constant flux in the tools and forms of expression and that one of the main needs is to be up-to-date to be able to continue exercising the profession in a purposeful way.

As Meyer wrote in editorial #70:
“In fact, we are seeing a transcendental transformation in who takes photos and for what purpose. The rise of an immense number of individuals who are capturing images that are not particularly good or even interesting, except for his/her family or friends, makes us reconsider, what does it mean to be a professional photographer? And it is not enough to simply have the technical skills to take a photo, which was the case in the past, but rather new criteria enter into play, depending on the ultimate purpose of the image.”

Duration:
About an hour.

Speaker Profile:
A historian, publisher, researcher, curator, teacher, or photographer.

Materials:
A video projector and computer, depending on the speaker’s needs.


Sponsored by:

patrocinio

Copyright © 2008 Pedro Meyer - All Rights Reserved. Use By Permission Only.