Friday Happy Hour: The Problematic Nature of Photography & More

Friday Happy Hour: The Problematic Nature of Photography & More

Much of the photo world has turned its attention to PhotoPlus in New York this week, but as always the Internet prevails, and we found plenty of gems in the blogosphere. Here are a few favorites.

Joel Sternfeld: the problematic nature of photography

Forbes had an interesting piece on the problematic nature of photography last month that slipped by us, but thanks to PetaPixel it’s circulating around again. The editorial drew on Joel Sternfeld’s iconic photograph of a fireman pumpkin-picking while a house burns in the background.

Joel Sternfeld, McLean, Virginia, December 1978 ©

What the photo doesn’t tell you is that the fire was a training exercise and the pumpkin-picker was just a fireman taking a break. “No individual photo explains anything,” Sternfeld has often been quoted. “That’s what makes photography such a wonderful and problematic medium.”

Years ago, everything captured in camera was accepted as fact – today we assume everything is contrived. At Luminance 2012 we heard from Photoshop devotee turned detector Kevin Connor, whose new software helps detect image manipulation. He asks us the simple yet wildly complicated question, has trust in photography declined? Check out the video of his talk for more:

You’re not the only photographer at the wedding anymore

Connecticut wedding photographer Richard Eposito has some news: you’re not the only photographer at the wedding anymore.

“Gone are the days of capturing a sea of guests with genuine emotion on their faces,” he wrote in a guest post on Tiffinbox. “Now you have to give an elbow to Aunt Clair who’s blocking the aisle with her Digital Rebel in hand as the bride makes her grand entrance.” Eposito goes on to talk about how professionals must compete with more and more amateurs, and still convince clients to pay $3-10K for a photographer. In fact, he quotes Market Watch saying that wedding photographers are some of the most overpaid professionals in America.

“Total work for each wedding is generally a sit-down consultation combined with a single day spent following the happy couple. While equipment costs and film development must be covered, thanks to digital technology such costs have been heavily reduced. Unfortunately for the consumer, photographers do not offer any reduction in price for missed photos, amateur shots, or other mediocre work product.”


Camera sales reportedly falling due to smartphones

What smartphone doesn’t have a camera these days? All of them, and that’s bad news for camera companies. Businessweek reported that Canon has cut its full-year proft and sales forecasts as consumers’ devotion to their smartphones replace the demand for cameras. Canon lowered its sales forecast by 4.3% for EOS models, which brings its total profits down 6.4%. Meanwhile, global sales for smartphones rose 32%. “Camera sales are slowing down and a forecast cut was inevitable,” said Hideki Yasuda, an analyst at Ace Securities Co. in Tokyo. “With the yen’s gain and uncertainties over economies, it’s hard to foresee Canon’s earnings improving going forward.” Yikes.

Photos of ParaTriathlon Final in New Zealand

New Zealand sports photographer Paul Petch of Outdoor Photography shot the ParaTriathlon Final for the first time, which he said was such an inspiration. “What really stood out for me was the runners who were blind with a guide attached with some string and totally in sync,” he says. Check out a few of his favorite shots below.

Photo by Paul Petch

Photo by Paul Petch

Photo by Paul Petch

Standing at the graveyards of e-waste

Ever think about what happens to your broken and discarded computer, TV, or dish washer? Stanley Greene has an amazing series on the “graveyards of e-waste” and the implications of a society that throws away their electronic devices every 2-5 years – or sometimes even shorter (looking at you, iPhone users).

“In graveyards of electronic waste, air, land and water are experiencing unprecedented levels of toxic pollution,” writes Greene. “The crisis is here and it is daunting. Common problems of developing nations, such as waste disposal, poverty and violence are exacerbated by the e-waste phenomenon.”

Photo by Stanley Greene

Aslam Khan warehouse yard, Shershah, Karachi, Pakistan. Sher Shah in Karachi is one of the principle markets for second hand and scrap materials  where all sorts of electronics, electrical, spare parts, are smuggled. Goods arrive by sea and land, non-usuable waste is crushed into cubes. The presence of these cubes dumped alongside water bodies or the disposal at landfills are extremely injurious to all living beings including humans.

See more of the series at NOOR images.

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There are 5 comments for this article
  1. Arthur Koenig at 2:25 pm

    About wedding photography and cell phone cameras.

    He sure nailed it on the head. I was an attendee at a wedding the other day and this same thing happened. Nobody was enjoying the ceremony because of all the iPhones. The people with the iPhones were to busy taking their images to be part of the ceremony. Note to Brides INSIST that NO cell phone images during the ceremony or reception etc??

    As a photographer, and channeling these interlopers I told my wife …. ” I don’t need no stinkin wedding photographer, I got this cell phone.”

    What a sad state of affairs, the digital revolution has completely changed the industry. Pay for Images??? Naw, I’ll just do a screen grab”

    I spoke with my photo printing lab the other day and they said that they have even been to people’s homes and seen proof copy screen grabs of some of the photographers they do work for mounted and framed on the wall.

    This is one of the reasons I go ahead with that big fat watermark on my images. If they are going to grab it off PhotoShelter, then at least they have to do a little bit of cropping or watermark editing. At the very best, if they pass the image around without doing this then I get free advertising of the kind of work I can do.

    What I would really like it to have a virus attached to and unauthorized image that makes them grow warts and hair on their nose!

    Thanks for tha article and letting me have a place to vent.

  2. Arthur Koenig at 2:33 pm

    Oh- I forgot to mention the “guest” with the dSLR with video capabilities and his 6×8 fluorescent news camers style light, walking around everywhere during the first dance and the reception. I went to the wedding photographer and asked if he wanted me to choke the guy and he said “Naw, I already have made plans for him.”

  3. Pingback: You Are Not the Only Photographer at a Wedding Anymore
  4. Pingback: You Are Not the Only Photographer at a Wedding Anymore « CUT TO THE JASE

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