The USPS launched a new panel of stamps this week dedicated to industrial workers. Lewis Hine -- a social reform photographer of the early 1900s, made all but one of the images on the stamp panels. It was Hine's photographs of children working in sweat shops, from the textile mills to coal mines, that helped to reform America's education system.
However, the focus of the "Made in America ~ Building a Nation" stamp theme features Hine's photography from the building of the Empire State Building to airplane manufacturing. The ideological message behind the release of the stamps represents not only a celebration of an era of unprecedented industrial growth and world dominance economically, but also the work of a great and important photographer.
For decades the Postal Service has released stamps with historical significance and collectors love them. According to a press release, the "Made in America" stamps honor “the workers who were essential to the growth of the modern United States."
In one way, the use of Hine's images in this context only shows half of the story. Hine was both documentarian and crusader.
What we see in this collection are images commemorating the "working man" and some women, when not in the kitchen, as a legacy of industry and capitalism. As is the case with many iconic images used out of context there is a feeling of appropriation and exploitation in that the stamps use the images to tell what is perceived as an idealized America. Sure, a picture is worth a thousand words, but whose words are they?
While we can look upon Hine's images as nostalgic social and cultural artifacts, there is also a sense of no turning back.
Ideologically, while we celebrate the American worker through Hine's pictures, so many of the products we consume today such as smart phones, televisions, clothing and other goods are made abroad in sweat shops not so dissimilar than those Hine made to raise awareness of gross social injustices.
For some time now I've wanted to create supplemental texts to accompany other readings in my classes. Like many instructors, I'm always discovering new and exicting textbooks but run into two issues usually. First, the textbooks are really expensive, and secondly, they don't completely match what I try to convey to my students. Even though textbooks such as Paul Martin Lester's "Visual Communication: Images with Message" works great, my exercises move in a slightly different direction. In my VisComm class students keep individualized journals that do not necessarily match papge for page with Dr. Lester's text. Therefore, I've tried to organize myself in a new way. It's the same way with digital photography for me. Ultimately, the guides serve to help students study for quizzes and tests and well as complete the many exercises I require of them.
Parenting can be hard work. There's laundry, shuttling children to activities, meals, shopping, and all sorts of stuff to deal with. Throughout the day, there just doesn't seem to be any time to carry around a camera and capture candid moments. Most family pictures are "snapshots" because they are posed and often poorly exposed and composed. In addition, many people have the mindset that this sort of image is the way pictures should be made -- snapshot seem normal to us because we have seen them all our lives. In so many ways, even though the snapshot plays an important role in remembering events, the image seems so unnatural and contrived. The posed image of people staring into the camera offers just one perspective - it speaks to the relationship between the photographer mostly and the subject. Visual storytelling moments refer to a photojournalistic or documentary approach to making images of the things we find most important and interesting to us in our daily lives.
Recently, in between all the busy things I have to do as a parent, I started carrying my camera around with my children -- going to the library, store, park, or wherever. The images have been so rewarding and I've learned things about my children that I've never really noticed before. Taking time out to carry a camera and making storytelling images of your children is a tradeoff. I certainly wouldn't suggest that making a picture is more important than caring for a child's needs, but there are moments when they are at play, eating, or even sleeping that present themselves in wonderful ways.
Here are a few images from this summer's experiment in family photography.
Trying to decide the right path to take on the way to becoming a professional photographer is confusing and often tedious. In addition, some programs emphasize technique while others focus on aesthetics. There are so many programs available and there are no "one-size-fits all" answers to what works best for individuals. In many ways, photography is both vocational as well as an art and it's important to discern the direction of a possible career before investing a lot of money into an education.Now there's an online resource to help sort it all out. The website offers easy to access to dozens of colleges and technical schools offering photography degrees, scholarship opportunities, and career advice. According to the website, photographydegree.com, is a "comprehensive resource for students considering a career in photography."
Recently, the site created a handy and well-designed infographic on some of the most common technical issues developing photographers face, including aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings. The piece is well done and will help draw readers to the site.
Creativity is good for the soul and we all should have more than one passion in life. For a while now I've thought of bringing my love for cooking and photography together in my own way.
This is a hearty dish that I felt appropriate as the climate in Kansas this year has been fickle. The inspiration for this dish comes from some pretty cool days and some snow into May. Pork is always a good bet for a filling meal. Add potatoes, carrots and mushrooms and it gets even better. I'll give my recipe below, but first the shot.
I arranged the plate on a hand-painted canvas background with cooler colors to offset the dark browns and amber tones of the meat and potatoes. I like being able to paint backgrounds that add something unique to the picture. Food sitting on a plate withouth a frame to bring the eye back in doesn't always work.
I used natural light with the shadows from the window frame to add dimension and contrast. The key is to find the focal point in the image. In this case, I wanted the viewer to focus on the pok chops. I probably loaded the plate a little too much with potatoes and mushrooms, but otherwise I think the image conveys a rustic and hearty feel.
Marinate two thick pork chops in yellow mustard overnight.
Heat about two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a heavy skillet or dutch oven (my choice). Let the oil get really hot.
Add the pork and let each side brown until a crust forms.
Turn the heat down to low and add the potatoes and mushrooms. Let this simmer for about 30 minutes. Add carrots after the potatoes are soft. Remove the pork and let the carrots slightly cook in the pan. Season with salt, pepper and parsley.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 3- - 40 minutes.
Tax Day by Dennis Dunleavy 2010
For the past few years, students in Dr. Paul Lester's Visual Communication class have been writing to me asking about this picture. As part of their studies students are asked to analyze an image and this is one up for review. I am flattered by the attention, but I've never really considered this image or anything I've made to be worthy of such analysis.
For me, a picture is like a quote from a longer narrative on life. The image stands out and speaks to us in so many ways because it demands attention in some way.
At the same time, the image cannot stand alone -- it needs a context and the words to explain it. As a visual narrative the image lives in the world of words, shared meaning, feelings and memory. Above all else, the image requires context -- something the viewer can relate to beyond the aesthetic experience.
I think part of the gift of being a photographer is to tell stories visually by allowing the viewer to fill in the blank with their own words. The viewer must learn to see the symbolism in the image and to question its relationship to the "real" world.
For me, the irony in this image has always been the fact this woman, a part-time temp worker at minimum wage - dressed as the Statue of Liberty -- who probably doesn't make enough money to file a tax return. There is also the appropriation of the symbol and ideal of freedom here that is most striking to me. The woman's pose juxtaposed against an empty city street suggests a tension that is hard to describe.
In all honesty, none of these things occurred to me when making the image. It is only upon reflection that ideas take shape. I think I saw the image as interesting. I am a storyteller that likes to tell "real" stories about people and their work. I think this image exemplifies a very modern condition humanity faces today. It shows how stuck we are in our day-to-day battle to survive and the impositions placed on us by others.
Photographic Education is at an exciting yet sometimes frustrating crossroads. The way we teach is evolving – we’re experiencing a time where the role and definition of what we do as teachers is challenged by emerging technologies as well as long-standing traditions.
Photographic education begins with deciding what photography actually is. Do we teach photography as an art, science, documentary medium, as a set of techniques, a field or even as an industry.
I tend to think of photography as a humanistic enterprise -- an experience that emphasizes storytelling.
However, against this backdrop is the reality of technological change. We’ve now entered an era where we have to teach within the framework of two modalities – visual practices and attitudes toward photography handed down from the days of the darkroom as well as from the standpoint of the digital turn. In the later, students must grapple with a myriad of technological choices that affect content. Teaching to post-production processes found in computational photography today can be a bit overwhelming. How much information do students need to be photographers in the 21st century? Should they be taught High Dynamic Range photography, video, or complex time-based editing programs such as Fina Cut Pro in addition to the industry standard Photoshop?
As a teacher, the problem comes down to finding ways reconcile, philosophically, the technological consequences of the digital turn in photography.
As Arthur Ou observes, pictures are no longer just “taken”; they are computed and predetermined by premade software like Photoshop and processed with an auto-everything mode of digital camera or smartphone.
I still believe, though, that teaching is a process where skills and theory intersect.
For me, visual storytelling remains central to pedagogy. Students must not only be concerned with shutter speed but also the cultural and personal agency of the images they create.
Teaching photography should be a process with three main precepts: technique, composition, and content. Each area should be addressed as a student progresses from one set of skills to the next. At the same time, not every student taking a photography class plans on becoming a professional photographer. Nevertheless, it is important for instructors to engage students as if they can be. Moreover, we have an obligation to introduce students to a discipline that enriches all of society and not just the individual.
Today, there are so many exciting innovations headed our way in computational photography that we need to address them from many perspectives -- personal, cultural, historical, technological, sociological and ethical.
We already have cameras that can stop the camera's shutter from releasing if it senses that one of the people in the frame blinks. We also have point and shoot cameras with “slimming” features – in-camera programs that can take off body mass – slim down – the subject. Consider, as well, the hyper-reality of post-processing offered through High Dynamic Range images.
How can we envision what the culture of photography will look like in the future – a time when human vision is increasingly structured by mechanical means? I think Ou's argument about how we must consider society from the totality of the images made is absolutely right. We are not only creators of images, we are, visual consumers. How often do we really sit down and think about the images we consume? Paul Martin Lester, in Visual Communication Today, suggests that the aveerage American views about 5,000 visually mediated images each day.
Photo education must be innovative and engage in teaching methods that foster critical thinking as well as creativity -- things we can do through varied assessment strategies, both formative and summative; and meaningful advising and mentoring during informal as well as regularly scheduled times.
Setting high standards for myself as well as my students means that I am constantly in a process of assessing what I think students need to know. For example, I recently gave a guest lecture and demonstrate on how to photograph art work for painting students in the fine arts program. I thought I knew what I was doing. I didn't come to class as prepared as I needed to. I forgot to bring my level and my T-square. Right away I noticed how truly complex making images of art can be. The work is technical and needs to be approached methodically since the paintings, drawing, and ceramic pieces vary so much in size and the treatment of the surfaces. In the end, I realized that what I was trying to share with these students was how to solve a problem.
Setting high standards for my students by engaging in critical and creative thinking, communicating expectations, as well as providing innovative learning experiences establishes means that even though we don't know exactly what the future of photography will look like, at least we are facing it straight on.
Teaching must be an active and collaborative learning for teachers and students. We must dedicate ourselves to providing our students with learning experiences in a rapidly changing media environment.
This is part three in a series of personal essays on photography and spirituality.
Memories flood the senses - one set of images gets pushed aside to make room for another. Pictures fill in the blanks of the stories we tell ourselves and others about who we are.
As images wash across my consciousness in a tide of memory and imagination, I feel I am of two minds living in two worlds with one heart.
This is the only way to explain what I think and do, and what I feel and don’t do. The light, cold as chrome, slashes through the fog of indecision I have endured in my days without knowing it.
There is one mind in the moment of the real and another of quixotic dreams.
It's been almost a year since my father died and he's still here -- on my desktop looking back at me. The picture shows him as a young man, in his first year as a New York City police officer. It was raining on that day in 1957, when dressed in a heavy rain coat and white gloves, he waded out into traffic at rush hour. Growing up, however, I never considered the significance of such a scene. As Halla Beloff writes, "Sometimes we have the chance to see what is all around us, but that we've never 'seen' because we never look at it. There is an iconic feel to the picture of my father -- for me, it's meaning extends far beyond it's original purpose. I think we all have such images to ground us to the culture we come from.
Pictures are never formless, they come from somewhere and take us somewhere through the geometry of a space, time, lines and shapes.
In a state of two minds, where the spiritual and physical are delineated and dichotomous by individual will rather than the will of God, “instructions” fail to reach the heart of hearts.
A photograph helps us to see the world in new ways, but it also can prevent us from seeing for ourselves. We accept the vision of another for one’s own beacuse have become accustomed to merely looking at the world and not seeing. While St. Benedict speaks of “listening” as a rule of obedience to the “master” there is also the matter of “seeing” that which is to be seen in the light of goodness and deep faith. You’ll know it when you see, or even better, you’ll feel it when you see it.
Something like 85 percent of our sensory experience is determined by sight, which means what we see has influence on what we hear. St. Benedict’s prologue, “List carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.” At the same time, I have come to interrupt this notion as “see carefully my son” and “see” with your heart.
Note: Second in a series of essays on the spiritual nature of photography
"The glaring contrast between seeing and looking-at the world around us is immense; it is fateful. Everything in our society seems to conspire against our inborn human gift of seeing." – Frederick Franck
Seeing is not a passive process, looking at things is. A cursory glance, something catching the eye, sensing but not feeling – means to look and not truly see the world as it is. Seeing is an act of the conscience. By seeing the beauty of all things we open ourselves up to interpreting the will of God.
Within me, from the time I picked up a camera, to a man on the advancing front of his prime years, I’ve come to accept the gift of photography as one of deep reflection.
We make a lot of assumptions about the pictures we make and share. We assume, for instance, that we make pictures so we can remember who we are later in life. We make pictures to remember, people, places and things. We think photography is about freezing and framing time, but in reality, making pictures is about being in the moment. Photography is about being in the present.
Today, the act of capturing a “fleeting reality”, the decisive moment, signals an opportunity for transformation – an instance of awakening the eye of the heart. Annie Griffiths said, “Photography is a moment of truth touched by light.” Bell understood photography to be as fleeting as the reality a photographer seeks to capture.
During the 1930s, Henri Cartier-Bresson, a young French photographer, described his style of making pictures as the decisive moment. Bresson observed, “To photograph is to hold one's breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality.“
Memory is stitched together by a millions decisive moments. To hold’s one breath – to recognize a flash of universal truth in a tear or a smile –– when life becomes a series of discrete instances captured on film. Photography demands interaction. Pictures reveal relationships – subject and photographer, light and camera, what is seen and what we fix in time.
Thomas Merton said, “In modern life our senses are so constantly bombarded with stimulation from every side that unless we developed a hind of protective insensibility we would go crazy….”
Moreover, artist and philosopher Frederick Franck suggests, “We have become addicted to merely looking-at things and beings. The more we regress from seeing to looking-at the world—through the ever-more-perfected machinery of viewfinders, TV tubes, VCRs, microscopes, stereoscopes—the less we see, the more numbed we become to the joy and the pain of being alive, and the further estranged we become from ourselves and all others.”
It's easy to understand the aesthetic benefits of simplicity since a photograph holds only a finite amount of information. The idea here is that simplicity in the frame may seem like a matter of composition -- arranges elements so that they communicate a message more effectively. Clear and contributing backgrounds, foreground/background relationships, juxtapositions, contrast, are all part of the mix that can either simplify or complicate the message.
At the same, simplicity in photography can also be an attitude, an approach to making compelling picture, or a state of mind. Photography that positions the photographer in a more harmonious relationship with the subject and the environment is more likely to experience a greater sense of fulfillment in what they create.
Creativity demands that we go beyond the technical aspects of a craft and seek the liberation of true self-expression.
Note: In recent years, I have given careful thought to the role spirituality has had on my photography. Some people may find this sort of reflection objectionable or too personal, but I maintain that creativity must grow from within -- that we must continue to seek what is true to how we see with our hearts.
Light of Heart
There are moments when circumstance and experience conspire to shape our conscience in unexpected ways. Thomas Merton called the conscience the “face of the soul.” After more than three decades of hiding behind a camera – I have sometimes felt invisible and at other times invincible. The camera became a shield to protect me from my emotions. I have witnessed humanity at its best and its worst. Through the lens, I have descended into the darkness of deprivation and war, as well as learned to find beauty in the quiet moments. The camera, for me, created a separateness from reality.
In the mirror of my soul, my conscience, I peer out into the world with bewildered eyes. The conscience, Merton continued, “… is the light by which we interpret the will of God in our lives.” Sometimes I have made pictures without a clear conscience. As a news photographer, I’ve learned to skim the surface of reality, to not let myself feel too much about the suffering and pain I’ve witness. I’ve learned to protect myself from the “will of God” who, in the end, demands more than just looking at something – capturing it as a moment – and moving on.
When I first read the prologue to the Rule of St. Benedict I was struck by the clarity of his advice for humanity, “Listen carefully…. with the ear of your heart.” Listen, but also see with the eye of your heart. Here’s the message -- if you engage in recording the human condition conscientiously, with creativity and authenticity, be prepared to have your world rocked. Exposing your soul to the anguish, and joy, of others can come at a price. Each time I witnessed death -- a child, drunk driver, and combatant -- a “human being,” I feel as though I had given up a piece of myself. The camera only justifies witnessing tragedy only so much until conscience calls.
I’ve always looked at photography as a spiritual exercise. While the actual act of making pictures seems relatively simple, automatic, and normal, there’s much more beneath the surface. Photography as a spiritual experience begins with recognizing that a picture of someone is not the whole person in the same way as a map is not the road. When we live for making the picture – capturing “reality” and not living in moment or sensing God’s light in all things, then the practice often seems soulless. Perhaps this is an indictment of today’s visual culture – one in which a torrent of visual messages conspires to remove us from the real -- away of being touched by the light of the spirit within.
We are all touched by the same light, the same God.
As I get older, I understand now how important it has become to let the light become us – to capture moments of conscience with the eye of the heart.
Despite all of the advantages of having so much information at our fingertips, we often feel overwhelmed and frustrated when it comes to searching for a job online.
Understanding how to manage content online, collect and share information is increasingly becoming an essential survival skill.
Today, looking for a job is more than putting together.
We need to be able to manage our online reputations as well as present the best possible face on the web.
According to CNN:
Job postings requiring social media skills rose 87% from 2011 to 2012, topping 13,000 in one month alone earlier this year.
Among Fortune 500 companies, 73% now have Twitter accounts and 66% have Facebook pages.
Among 2,100 companies surveyed by the Harvard Business Review, only 12% of those using social media feel they use it effectively.
There are many many ways to search for jobs on the web, but unfortunately Google isn't the only answer. Conducting a Google search for a job in engineering is like getting lost on a buffet line. Too many choices and the content may be a little stale.
So many people lack the fundamental skills of using social media wisely. We've got all this stuff but we don't know how to used it to meet our needs in diverse ways. What we are talking about here is a type of social media literacy.
Over the past few years a new buzz word has been flying around around the web -- it's called curation. The term refers to the collection, use, and management of diverse streams of content coming across the web. Mostly, curation is a form of organizing and disseminating or re-disseminating information on the web. When we learn to monitor the streams of information we are interested in in a manageable way, we are more focused and less overwhelmed.
It's difficult to keep track of email, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, blogs, websites, and other online content in a reasonable way.
Ideas for Job Searchers Using Social Media and the Web
Know the market: Recent or soon to be grads need to understand where the jobs are in their field, how hard are they to come by, what salaries look like, and what companies stand out as industry leaders. Knowing the market requires more research than a simple Google search.
Start out by identifying the major players in your field. For example, which firms appear the most robust and stable. Is the company hiring? Is the company on the stock market? How much competition is there in the field? How many patents have been filed in a given year by the company? Does the company have a website, blog, Twitter feed, or are they on Facebook?
Use your time wisely. Create lists. Set priorities.
Curate information using a social media strategies.
There are applications such as Google Plus, Hootsuite, Rebel Mouse and others that let uses aggregate information from various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter,Tumblr, Pinterest, RSS feeds, and social bookmarking sites. Rather than going to five different platforms to read posts and keep up to date about a specific search, you can have it all right in front of you. Visualizing all this information in one place puts you in control of your content, not to mention making it appear less intimidating.
Join an association in your field, or the very least, following the trends and job positing they offer.
Manage your reputation. This is a biggie. Many people apply for jobs not realizing that future employees will sometimes conduct a Google search or review Facebook and Twitter posts. The most damaging content are posts that are self-incriminating.
Join Linked-In and other professional social media sites.
Join like-minded groups of people on Facebook or other social media to share ideas and ask questions.
It's 5:30 a.m. in the Midwest and the Tweekdeck streams are beginning to heat up from the east coast. There are Instagram snaps of people lining up to vote in New York and shots empty streets in L.A, these are first impressions. At the same time, Sandy tweets are also starting to hum with the impressions of weary early risers.
It's an exciting time in the world of mass media. Today, as Americans cast their ballots, they are presented with thousands of choices to keep informed.
If we are glued to watching streams of tweets, blog posts, and smart phone images we might get the perception that social media may soon replace the "mainstream" -- that is the value of traditional news will be diminished. Unfortunately, we'd be wrong to take such a stance.
As I watch the traffic trending on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, I have to remind myself that what I am witnessing is only representative of a specific segment of our society. That in no way can social media, even with its seeming ubiquity, be considered the new norm.
For example, two twitter streams, #obama2012 and #mittromney are running side-by-side on Tweetdeck. Obama's thread is firing off as many as 10 tweets per second, while Romney stream is less that half the volume. What does this observation tell us about the elections? Not much. What is suggests though is that there is a certain demographic that has taken to using social media tools, and apparently they aren't all Republicans.
When Hurricane Sandy hit more than 3.5 million tweets flew across the Internet. Hundreds of groups popped up on Facebook, and blogs were abuzz. At the same time, the mainstream media was running a race to keep up that would make even Hussein Bolt gasp for air. In newsrooms around the world people, so-called news curators, are separating the chaff from the wheat.
Remember the old adage, News doesn't tell you how to think. It just tells you what to think about? We live in a time where when "I see it" and "you can too." At the same time, the key issue is that with the overwhelming number of choices available to us we try to keep an open mind. Today, it is far too easy to just select the things that are relevant to us, and not consider how all of this information paints a bigger picture of the world around us.
I made this infographic as a demo for my new media class. Visual data is becoming increasingly important on the web. We've been moving toward a visually-based culture for information for a long time. Using data to create quick reads, especially those that provide an historical perspective maybe the new norm.
Our culture is increasingly becoming as mashed up as all that tasteless “Binder Full of Women” derivative art popping up all over the Internet after yesterday’s presidential debate.
Social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, are transforming the relationship between spectator and spectacle. In other words, creative expression empowers individuals, but it also alters socially accepted norms such as civility, critical thinking, and in a sense true democratic participation. I do acknowledge, however, that the last point (democratic participation) seems a bit of a stretch. My key concerns are that mashups reflect a shift in culture through objectifying events into isolated instances rather than looking at the "bigger picture."
Looking at dozens of digitally manipulated “binder” themed mash-ups is a little depressing.
There is the binder with a pair of female legs sticking out of it or the one with Austin Power’s “Fat Bastard” saying “get in me binder.”
Poking fun at others is a national pastime. Beside, with the NHL on strike what else do all those middle-aged testosterone-challenged males have left do to other than put a presidential candidate’s face on an alien’s body.
Despite the appearance that social media empowers people in a ”democratic” sort of way, the notion of civility seems to have gotten lost in the bandwidth. Where’s the real substance in creating “art” when it comes off looking more like a boorish cheap shot than a work of good conscience. I know this sounds so prudish, but so much media attention has shifted to covering what people are doing with social media after the debate, that the real issues are becoming buried.
Image credit: google
TheLos Angeles Times' photography website, Framework, is a bold, clean, exciting, and intelligent presentation of some of the world's best photography. Hands down, this site offers viewers not only outstanding photography, but the stories behind them.
Dressed neatly, looking dapper, Safer blames much of what has become of traditional or "old" media on the free wheeling ways of social media and faux journalism.
There's no question about Shafer's credentials -- he's been a correspondent with CBS news for 42 years. The real issue, however, is how Shafer doesn't realize the fact that he is one of the elite -- the old breed and an elder statesmen for an industry in demise.
The soap box has always belonged to the guy that owned it. Today, there are a billion soap boxes and more are being built every day. This is why folks like Shafer and others are so "appalled".
One problem is that human beings are too sentimental about holding on to things they've become accustomed to. They like the feel of newsprint in the morning. Give me a break.
We are creatures of habit, and until mobile apps and living online cross the digital divide - when this gap narrows --what we call new media will become "the media".
Why are we making such a big over new media? People began distrusting "traditional media" long before the Internet came along. It all started when "Big" business such as Murdock's News Corps and other conglomerates got their hooks into buying up all the independents in this country.
Everything seems to come down to who we can trust to give us unbiased, accurate, and timely information in which we can inform ourselves and make smart choices. Getting the news from trusted sources can make us feel safe and better informed. Today, even those time-honored sources are not to be trusted.
Social media reflects the world we live in -- its fast-paced, chaotic and unpredictable.
"Engaged a relentless battle against time and fatigue, a select group of message scientists assembled by the White House's Center for Narrative Control say they will take "all steps necessary" to contain a recent outbreak of scrutonium, a deadly poll-eating supervirus that attacks the immuno-hope system, leaving victims vulnerable to material facts."
From the IowaHawk
Follow David Burge on Twitter @iowahawkblog
Funny, Funny Guy... Steve Martin on Twitter
This is where we live.....
Just for a moment, imagine a camera that can auto-correct not only the exposure, but what the perfect image should actually look like.
Imagine a camera that instantly evaluates, second guesses, and corrects what you thought would be a great picture of the family dog, your prize cabbage, or the new baby. We already have cameras that come close to making perfect images in the DSLR range in terms of exposure, and the smart phone market isn't far behind. In the future, we'll have cameras that can finish the job. Not only will cameras fix the exposure for us, they will suggest the best compositional choices, and send the final image wirelessy to your email box.
We live in a world of increasing tele-optic intelligences -- due in large part to unprecendented computational development and design. We "see," but our cameras will "see" even better. In the future, the camera's sensors will tell you more about the picture you are trying to make than you could possibly consider.
In the future, when you raise your camera to compose a picture a sensor will calculate compositional choices based on well-established design principles such as the rule of thirds, repetition of form, use of color, depth of field, and that sort of thing. The camera will tell you when there is a tree coming out of someone's head or that the raccoon-like shadows around your subject's eyes need attention.
Apple and Google are hard at work on Artifical Intelligent goggles and cars that can "see" for themselves. Samsung and Nissan have just announced they'll be introducing a car in 2015 with an "all-around view" camera that will allow the car to park itself.
In the future, cameras will tell us that the horizon is crooked or that someone's face isn't visible in a group shot. Maybe the camera will be able to speak to us with suggestions through a headset like a producer speaks to a camera operator on a TV set or like the voice of a GPS device "directing" us to our destination. "Reculating" -- move two feet to the nortwest, raise the viewer 4 degrees vertically, move closer "x" number of inches.
We already have cameras that won't release the shutter until all eyes are open. How about those cameras that can make your subject look 10 pounds thinner?
In the future, our ability to record the world faithfully with our camera will be less magical and based more upon a finite set of well-defined instructions for calculating not only the proper exposure but also the best composition.
In the future our pictures will be Ansel Adams perfect.
Photography is on the edge of incredible advances -- those that are sure to be less about the photographer's skill and more about how the camera can be programmed to "see" for us. What we are looking at here is a camera that can "park" itself.
Ultimately, the limits of what we see seem only hindered by the things we can't imagine.
Years from now, people will look back upon the present public distrust of journalism and shake their heads in the same way we do when reminded of the scandalous days of "Yellow Journalism."
A recent Gallup Poll concluded, "Americans' distrust in the media hit a new high this year, with 60 percent saying they have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. Distrust is up from the past few years, when Americans were already more negative about the media than they had been in years prior to 2004."
It's our own fault really. Beginning in the late 1980s, we watched with ambivalence as corporate greed and the consolidation of news organizations increasingly took control of not "what to think, but what to think about" -- in other words, journalistic values no longer set the agenda. News, just like in the days of the Penny Press, traffics numbers – news is a commodity not a public service. Journalists lucky enough to survive wave after wave of cuts and layoffs during the past decade have become serfs - overworked and underpaid -- to the landed elites of the media circus.
The recent shake up at news corps' phone tapping debacle highlights the seedier side of an industry in trouble. This isn't to say that good journalism -- fair-minded, accurate, and relevant reportage -- has gone the way of the Dodo bird. There's still a lot of great work being done, but at the local level the news is bleak and getting bleaker.
The $64,000 question is how can the media restore public faith in faithfully and truthfully reporting news?
I am not sure that's the right question to ask anymore. I don't think we can return to the days where individuals were held accountable for the information they reported on, because there is a disconnected between the corporations that run the news operations and the time-honored values that at one time were perceived as the gold standard of this industry. News moves across social media and mobile platforms at an alarming rate.
A 2009 study by The New York Times and the University of California at San Diego found Americans consume 34 GB worth of content a day. In the old days, the journalism of let's say 20 years ago, an average length for a news story would be between 10 to 20 inches or between 350 to 700 words. Today, between new and traditional media, people are exposed to at least 100,000 words, the study concludes.
Here’s the real issue behind all of this "public distrust" in the media. People in this country have increasingly become distrustful of all institutions -- not just the media. We don't trust our leaders, from politics to religion, we don't trust our banks, not our healthcare or educational systems. People, and we can see this in how this upcoming election is shaping up, are becoming much more polarized and paralyzed when it comes to trusting anyone outside their close circles of friends and family.
We feel safer living out our lives virtually on the Internet than we do about walking across the street to meet a new neighbor. Why should we trust the media when we can't trust the institutions it tries to report on?
The "distrust" issue in the media is emblematic of a larger more disconcerting fear embracing this country today. We like to point fingers at the media for being increasingly partisan and opinionated, but we don't know what to do about it?
Recently, I read a story about a professional soccer player who picked up some debris from the playing field during a game. Turned out that the debris was a bomb. My confidence in the veracity of the report fell when the last sentence read that the game resumed after the referees changed their underwear.
I read the story because it was placed at the top of the Yahoo! News page. But who at Yahoo! is accountable for such inaccuracy. I felt duped. In this age of malaise and distrust, it's on us to challenge what passes as truth. Don't trust Rupert Murdock, NBC, Fox, Google or Yahoo to do it for you.
A long stretch of Missouri River bottom lands separating Kansas and Missouri was covered in a fog that reminded me of the sea.
I learn things about myself through the images I make.
For most of my career, more than 30 years, I looked at life through the lens of a news photographer -- grounded in the conventions of journalistic reportage. Recently, however, I have begun to see the world from a different perspective -- a world where the seemingly ordinary becomes extraordinary.
Much of this shift from craft, photojouralism, to photography as an exploration of self, has developed through teaching. In the past, getting the decisive moment and telling the story was first and foremost. I never considered, for the most part, the fundamental elements of the image itself -- line, shape, color, texture, tone. All the aesthetic concerns seemed to just come with the storytelling. Now, I feel free to experiment with light in new ways. At the same time, keeping in mind that anything i learn about the visual process is transferable to the classroom. It is only through my own exploration of what photography means to me that I can share my knowledge with others.