As we collectively stumble out of our lockdown daze and return (in a mix of reluctance and excitement) to the realm of communications and media studies, we’re faced with a challenge. For this subject (BCM241 Media Ethnographies), we must choose a media niche to immerse ourselves within, for research and analysis.
Those of you who follow my Instagram or Twitter will know that I’ve been interested in photography for quite a while now. In fact, if you had followed this blog as little as a year ago, it would have still been called “Neesh Photography”. I rather recently decided to separate the two passions of mine – photography & writing – into separate entities. I’ve been quite dedicated to creating writing content on this site for the last few months, but still haven’t done much serious work in the photography sphere.
The relevance of photography outside of the niche community is undoubtable, the media that we access on a daily basis is saturated with images in one sense or another. As they say, a picture paints a thousand words, so of course, images have a strong impact on the way that we perceive and understand our world, our lives and the media we consume. Photography, more than anything, serves to shape and communicate perspective.
Photography today lends itself readily to a discussion around social constructionism. The primary function of photography is to represent and communicate some form of reality or truth visually, and the idea of ‘truth’ as something that “is different based on who you ask” is central to the social constructionism paradigm. (DeCarlo, Mattew, 2018).
Pair this with the paradigm shift present in the way we are coming to re-examine the value of news & legacy media, and it’s evident that photography, as a representation of reality conveyed to a viewer, is undergoing a coinciding paradigm shift as well.
“Photography has been adopted for every kind of human viciousness, but it also is a boon for human understanding and solidarity…Photography is in a state of flux, and thinking about photography is moving into a new attention space and conceptual vocabulary.”Robert Hariman, ‘Rethinking photography, spectatorship, and the public image‘, 2016
The problem is, in an age where every person has a phone camera strapped to their hip 24/7, what defines a photographer and distinguishes them from someone with a camera? It’s not a niche if everyone is interested and involved in it. The answer is this;
A good photographer is able to consistently produce work that has some sort of effect on other people. And they’re consistently able to make something in a style that’s specific to themselves.
That’s why public persona is important in the careers of photographers. It contributes to their brand and sets them and their style apart. A lot of more well-known photographers utilise persona through a YouTube channel, however, a number of platforms are useful for the photography community. Instagram is an obvious one. Although, it’s garnered a lot of critique due to its algorithmic lack of support for photography work. Platforms such as Pinterest, Flikr, 500px, Behance, Twitter and TikTok are home to niche photography communities.
I’d love to use this subject and the corresponding DA to delve deeper into the online media community of photographers & photography. Because, regardless of how good you are handling a camera, a successful photographer draws on public persona, platform usage skills and user interaction. So far, my grasp on those tools are underdeveloped, and this subject will give me a great incentive to focus on developing them.
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