“We are all photographers suddenly, or surrounded by them.”
(Fred Ritchin, 2009)
Fred Ritchin is definitely a reference when discussing the future of photography or, in his own terms, the “after photography”. Within the last fifteen years, as a matter of fact, the photography world has changed so rapidly that any attempt of theorization ends up with a constant debate leading to a circular re-thinking of the possibilities that the medium offers – both in terms of artistic production and professional challenges. If we analyze this, we quickly realize how the idea one has of the photographer, even though it seems to be based on a solid foundation, can easily be called into question and encounters a number of problems. In the digital age, we are surrounded by devices capable of producing images that are not necessarily based on the physical principle of capturing and imprinting light. Photography continues to mean writing with light, but even that is no longer so obvious. We live at a moment in history when we are questioning the cornerstones of photography. We talk of the so-called digital revolution; we discuss definitions and labels, and the increasingly blurred line between art and photography, and even between art photography and photojournalism—but we are still struggling to understand where all this will lead to.
To a large extent, the issue focuses on the technological means of photography, and one thing is for sure: we now truly realize that photography has always depended on technology. It is precisely to throw off this dependence that it is best to avoid the hyper-conservative approach that has often characterized photographic production, and to embrace new languages that focus on spreading the message, and not only on technology. In this new era of mass-production, perhaps even more than in the past, the balance between research, language, and storytelling—the supporting elements in the construction of the message—is what enables the work to stand out. Telling stories—in a more or less complex way, more or less journalistically or artistically— has always been an integral part of the work of the image-maker.
Therefore, when discussing the main changes in and within photography practice the so-called post-photographic condition plays a key role to underling the major changes in terms of production, vision and technological possibilities extended to the photographic media. Post-photography is hard to be defined as it implies a number of processes and artistic actions in reaction to the visual overabundance we are facing in the contemporary world. The assumption is that “we inhabit the image and the image inhabits us. In post-photography, truth, and memory – once fundamental qualities of the camera – are brushed aside in favor of connectivity and communication.” (Fontcuberta, 2011) The main questions are “How has our relationship with images changed?” and “What significant new spaces are images beginning to occupy in our lives?”
Photography has become increasingly distributed, technological development plays a key role in a world constellated by images where (almost) everyone is a producer and contributor to the various platforms able to host content coming from a variety of devices and contexts. The work of image-makers and professionals working in the field of photography is, indeed, affected but it is still not clear where all of this is leading us.
In order to delineate strategies of adaptation, during Camera Arts Network Days we aim at discussing the role of the image-makers in this post-everything world, trying to define the future jobs in the creative industry and ways of making outstanding use of languages, media, technology embracing diversity and challenging labels.