Concerned that photographers need multiple websites to find what they need, web designer Stephen Hockman has created a new social network called Shutter Pals. Photographers from around the globe can now connect with one another to share events, sell equipment, and chat in forums.
Although the idea isn't exactly new, Sportsshooter has been doing this for years, it does open up the field more for experts and novices. The one drawback so far is that you have to subscribe to get a better sense of the services available. I think opening up just a few of the "zones" might draw more users to the site.
Jarle recently commented on the post "Crazy light", in which I wrote: "We are constantly challenged to
make scenes that are less than interesting, more interesting." The question that this raises, however, is when and how are the conventions of honest visual reportage bent for the sake of making images more compelling?
Correct. We all strive to make our photos more interesting. But, ethically and philosophically speaking, isn't this in direct conflict with the "our pictures must always tell the truth" mantra?
There's often a thin line between photojournalism, "art" and subjective, commentary photography.
And, playing the devil's advocate, what's the difference between adding motion blur in Photoshop and using a slow shutter speed?
I'll start out by agreeing with much what Jarle has said here. From a purist perspective, "Straight" photography should be a style of photography that records what the eye witnesses without elaboration or embellishment. For the most part, this form of photography, what is photojournalism today, has remained pretty much true to form. At the same time, it is possible to find quite a few examples of photojournalism from the 1980s to the present day, that deviate from the normal conventions.
Photo Credit: Craig Aurness/National Geographic
As Jarle notes, "ethically and philosophically speaking, isn't this in direct conflict with the "our pictures must always tell the truth" mantra?"
According to the NPPA Code of Ethics, photojournalists should "Be accurate and comprehensive in the representation of subjects." The language here seems a bit vague. The language is vague because ultimately it is up to the photographer or his or her editor to determine what "accurate" and "comprehensive" really mean within a specific context. Is Aurness' image and honest, fair-minded and "accurate" representation according to National Press Photographers Association guidelines? In a sense, Aurness has created for the viewer an image that human eye is incapable of seeing. The human eye captures motion at 1/10th of a second, but it also has the capacity to follow a scene without disruption. The optics and mechanics of a camera far exceed the eye in this manner. Therefore, in a case like this, what constitutes a comprehensive and accurate representation?
This issue may actually be more about cultural tastes and values than it is about ethics. Cultural conventions and tastes change over time, but at the heart of any photographer/audience relationship is whether or not the image is deceptive and misleading. Digital manipulation has created a crisis of conscience for many photographers, simply because it has become so cheap, fast, and easy to embellish, construct, and correct images. So much depends on the context in which the picture is made. Motion blur in news photography has been an accepted practice for many photographers for decades. Motion emphases action and helps to make the reading of a scene more meaningful and comprehensive. Just as depth of field can add 3-dimensionality to a two-dimension image, adding motion is a "trompe le oile" or a photographer's way of tricking the eye. However, is it appropriate or ethical to create motion after the fact -- in PhotoShop? Most photographers would probably say no, it's unethical to manipulate images in order to produce an effect after the picture was captured.
Analyzing the image above, can we say unequivocally that a breach of ethics has occurred? Has the context in which the event took place been manipulated by my choice to employ a slow shutter speed? Is the scene somehow more inaccurate and less comprehensive a representation give the fact that the human eye is limited by how much motion it can see at a given point in time? Should photojournalists be required to photograph scenes at 1/10th of a second or higher to ensure that they are more truthful to the human eye?
These questions, and so many others, evoke a great deal of thought and emotion. At the same time, this "thin line" between photojournalistic convention and subjective "artistic" approaches mentioned by Jarle remains unresolved, because ultimately the decision resides with what the photographer believes to be right or wrong. So much of our decision to frame, freeze and fix a moment in space and time depends not only on context, but also on our motivation for being there in the first place.
December 01, 2008 in altered images, camera flash, digital cameras, digital literacy, digital media and teaching, digitally altered pictures, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Media Manipulation, national press photographers association, photo digital manipulation, photo fakery, photographic ritual, photography, photography and history, Photography and society, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Photoshop, Picture Editing, pictures and emotions, visual culture citicism, visual journalism education, visual perception | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
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It was only a matter of time before an increasingly number of computer scientists began wrapped their heads around digital imaging in a big way, at least in their spare time. That's exactly what Carlo Baldassi, a student in computational neuroscience did, after looking at some pictures of his girlfriend that appeared too constrained and out of proportion. Baldassi has created an automatic photo-editing software tool that always the user to stretch an image without it looking stretched. Peter Wayner's article in The New York Times quotes Baldassi as saying, "Reality is a lie." Nice quote perhaps, but the implications are much more far-reaching as software such as the one Baldassi has made becomes commonplace.
Automated tools like Mr. Baldassi’s are changing the editing of photography by making it possible for anyone to tweak a picture, delete unwanted items or even combine the best aspects of several similar pictures into one.
The tools are giving everyone the ability of the Stalin-era propagandists, who edited the photographic record of history by deleting people who fell out of favor.
Wayner's last statement is a bit troubling. Sure, we have the tools now to seamlessly stretch the truth, but do we need to? In my on-going survey on digital manipulation more than 40 percent of respondents indicated that they could tell when a picture had been altered.
2007-2008 snapshot of the photo manipulation survey related to whether people can tell if a picture has been altered.
2006-2007: Note that the sample sizes differ considerably.
During my time surveying people about digital photo manipulation, a fairly high percentage of people report they can tell when a picture has been altered. I find this opinion interesting, because in my own experience I am not as skillful.
In my own experience, I find myself having less time to carefully scrutinize pictures. I do assume, though, that there is an increase in altered images in the media with the introduction of digital technologies, but because of the volume of pictures flooding our consciousness, I tend, like many people, to just scan images quickly. I tend to judge the authenticity of a picture on the context and source in which it is disseminated. For example, I would tend to trust the authority of a news image in The New York Times over an advertising image any day. This means that I wouldn't typically spend time looking for manipulated images in The New York Times, while I just assume that most advertising images have been altered to varying degrees.
Getting back to Baldassi's software, which is based on the seam carving work of Shai Avidan and Ariel Shamir, it makes sense that many of these tools will become commonly accepted by people over time. In the future, we will just expect that the images we see have been enhanced in some way and that the notion of objective reality is nothing more than a passing fancy.
February 03, 2008 in altered images, digital cameras, digital literacy, digital media and teaching, digitally altered pictures, Journalism, Media Ethics, Media Manipulation, New York Times front paqe, photo collage, photo digital manipulation, photo digital manipulation survey, photo fakery, photographic ritual, Photographs and Politics, photography, photography and history, Photography and society, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Photoshop, propaganda, seam carving, sustainability, teaching, technology, visual culture citicism, visual journalism education, visual perception, Visual Rhetoric and Metaphor, ways of seeing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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When you ask people about photography they'll sometimes tell you that they just can't do it. Pictures just don't seem to come out right, they confess. Many people believe that, like drawing or painting, you have to have natural talent to take pictures. Historically, the reason why photography took hold in society so early after its development was the simple fact that it didn't necessarily take all that much talent.
What photography really takes is a little patience. I guess in today's society we seem to have so little of it. The predominant attitude seems to be that If you can't get perfection on the first attempt, then the effort just isn't worth it.
When pressed to describe the reasons for the "I can't take a decent photo" rationale, people typically talk about pictures in technical terms such as, being too light or too dark, out of focus, too noisy, or having too much movement in the frame. Beyond these concerns, many folks simple lack the vocabulary to articulate other important characteristics of photography such as composition and content.
As a culture we are conditioned to behave and think about photography early on in life. We learn to smile for the camera and "say cheese" out of a sense of obligation to the person holding the camera. We are taught that if the picture is worth making, then we should get on board with the process even if we really don't want to.
It might even make sense to set up a help group for the photographically impaired -- In case of a photographic emergency dial 1-800-CLICK.
After thinking about this for a while, I realize that a lot of this issue is about not being able to meet an individual's expectations of what a "good picture" is in the first place. We have it in our minds that a picture must meet a certain criteria, which in turn appears to be about the technology.
It may be possible to explain our expectations in terms of high-level practice and low-level practice. Most people compare their personal low-level snap shots with the high-level media images they see all around them. With all the technological advances in digital cameras, the difference between low-level photographic practices and high-level practices may be now closing. At the same time, the camera is still just a tool and it will take some time to educate people about the ability to tell compelling visual narratives that are aesthetically composed. If there's any doubt about my assertion, just take a look at what people are doing on Flickr or other photo-sharing Web sites. When people begin to understand that photography is more than point and shoot technology, the gap will close even more.
January 24, 2008 in Dennis Dunleavy, digital cameras, digital literacy, digital media and teaching, Photoblogging, photoblogs, photographic ritual, photography, Photography and society, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, visual culture citicism, visual journalism education, visual perception | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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They're convenient, cool, and irresistible - iPhones on the campaign trail. Mother Jones magazine Washington Bureau Chief, David Corn recently posted an essay of pictures he made with an iPhone while covering the New Hampshire primary. Hardly a photojournalistic coup, Corn's access to the candidates, his infatuation with the new technology, and his status as a bureau chief at the magazine give him an inside track on publishing pictures that probably wouldn't make it beyond the picture desk at our local newspaper.
Corn isn't a photojournalist, but having an iPhone might makes him one -- well, almost. It seems to me that the pictures shot from ringside at many of the campaign stops in New Hampshire count more as novelty and curiosity then they do as serious visual reportage. Nevertheless, Corn's approach is most likely something that will remain with us in an age where anyone with a camera phone can snap away a kilter and publish the results instantly. This certainly doesn't suggest that photojournalism is doomed or ever dead, it simply indicates that the field is rapidly changing. Even if the pictures aren't perfect, they still count as a visual record of events. The more people like Corn remain enthusiastic enough to play around with the iPhone at major events, the more extensive the visual reportage becomes. And that isn't all that bad.
January 20, 2008 in camera phones, Campaign pictures, celebrities, Citizen journalism, consumer culture, Current Affairs, diffusion of innovation, digital cameras, iPhone_, Photo-ops, Photoblogging, photoblogs, photographic ritual, Photographs and Politics, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Political pictures, politics, Politics and Photography, public journalism, visual culture citicism, visual journalism education, visual perception, Visual Rhetoric and Metaphor, ways of seeing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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Can you tell if this picture was digitally altered?
In it's second year, the annual survey on digital photo manipulation seeks the participation of photojournalists and photographers, professionals and enthusiasts, from around the world to help us understand how attitudes toward digitally altered images may be changing.
Last year, more than 745 respondents participated in the annual survey on digital photo manipulation. Part of the study seeks to clarify how photographers define photo manipulation and another part explores how attitudes toward image altering my be changing over time. The study is part of a long-term evaluation of attitudes people have toward accepting digitally altered images in the media and elsewhere.
For example when asked, "I can tell when a photograph has been digitally altered," 42 percent of respondents (n=738) agreed or strongly agreed that they could tell the difference last year. However, 58 percent either disagreed or were undecided about whether they could tell a picture has been altered. Could it be possible that over time, given advances in image editing software, more people will be unable to tell. The survey encourages the participation of both professionals and amateurs photographers and explores other issues such as if it is okay for images of Hollywood celebrities to be altered but not okay for images of politicians.
In terms of defining what constitutes digital photo manipulation four questions were presented:
1) I define photo digital manipulation as changes to the content of a picture after it is made through electronic means.
2) I define photo digital manipulation as a process that helps to make the picture better aesthetically.
3) I define photo digital manipulation as a process that helps to make the objects in the picture more visually interesting.
4) I define photo digital manipulation as a process that changes the content of a picture by adding or removing visual elements from the original.
Other areas worthy of tracking over a long period of time include how photo digital manipulation is defined and whether the issue remains important in the public sphere.
More than 87 percent of respondents agreed to define photo digital manipulation as changes to the content of an image through electronic means, while 44.9 percent believed it to be process that helps to make the objects in the picture more visually interesting. When asked if photo digital manipulation helps to make the picture better aesthetically, 37. 8 percent disagreed, 23 percent had no opinion, and 38 percent showed agreement. In the last question, "I define photo digital manipulation as a process that changes the content of a picture by adding or removing visual elements from the original," more than 85 percent expressed agreement with the statement.
Although these results do not reflect any true surprises, it is important to help clarify how people define the terms they use to describe phenomena. When polled about whether participants feel photo digital manipulation is an increasingly important issue in society today, more than 85 percent agreed that it was.
(Answer: Nothing was altered on the picture above, but it sure looks like it could be. I made this picture at a home leisure booth at a county fair and there were a lot of odd things around the girl taking a nap.)
December 13, 2007 in digital cameras, digital literacy, digital media and teaching, digital media_, digitally altered pictures, observation, photo digital manipulation, photo digital manipulation survey, photo fakery, photoblogs, photographic ritual, Photographs and Politics, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Photoshop, Picture Editing, visual culture citicism, visual journalism education, visual perception, Visual Rhetoric and Metaphor, ways of seeing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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Technological innovative appears to be out pacing our capacity to understand and maintain some of the conventions inextricably bound to the ethics of photography, especially photojournalism.
Researchers Ariel Shamir and Shai Avidan have figured out a way of reducing and enlarging the size of images that they describe as content-aware seam carving. The process allows the Photoshop user to extend pixels in one dimension while reducing them in another, which is much different from antecedent resizing methods.
In other words, it is now possible to resize an image while maintaining the scale of the most important features in the picture. Shamir and Avidan call the process the "judicious" reduction or expansion of pixels along along a seam. The seam carving program repeatedly carves out and inserts seams along a path of connected pixels.
Photo Credit: Shamir & Avidan
It shouldn't come as a surprise that smart people like Shamir and Avidan are coming up with new ways of changing the content of our pictures to suit tastes and aesthetics after the fact. At the same time, technological innovation give us something to think about in terms of how fast these changes are occurring.
We are increasingly moving into an era where post-production processes such as seam carving determine our ability to discern how we come to decide what is deceptive and unethical.
October 28, 2007 in digital cameras, digitally altered pictures, Media Ethics, photo fakery, photoblogs, photographic ritual, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Photoshop, seam carving, visual culture citicism, visual journalism education, ways of seeing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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Techpresident.com, a blog tracking the online activities of presidential wannabees, offers a glimpse into how the social web is increasingly influencing the political process in this country.
One fascinating aspect to this site is a space dedicated to pictures using the Flickr photo-sharing site. If a picture is tagged with a candidates name, Techpresident links to it. In other words, if you are a campaign rally, all the images you upload to Flickr could have the potential to influence public perception of a candidate. It's a new twist on spin from stumpurbia.
What makes this site significant is how it is using the phrase "Votojournalism" to refer to citizen photojournalism. As the site explains:
'We call it "votojournalism" because it is a prime example of voter generated content, photojournalism by the people."
According to the corporate web consultancy firm iDionome, votojournalism is “The excellent portmanteau of Voter and Photojournalism, for voter-generated content where users post pictures of the candidates on the campaign trail, online.”
Techpresident's pitch offers an alternative to the professional spin applied to typical media coverage of a candidate's life during a campaign. As the pitch reads:
"You'll find lots of candid shots here, including those of people attending campaign events, along with the presidentials in sometimes unguarded moments."
The reach of the media spotlight on candidates is now expanding exponentially with the possibilities of the Internet and the social web. Anyone with a camera phone is potentially a "votojournalist", looking to catch that one decisive "tell-all" moment that may influence a candidate's chances to become president.
Although this activity may be beneficial for democracy -- now have more "eyes" than ever before scrutinizing the political process -- we also must be careful not to fall for the redactive nature of photography. The concern here is that the torrent of images we have to deal with on a daily basis tends to reduce complex events into bytes and bits. In turn, an unvetted and relentless stream of images appears intimidating and overwhelming for many people to process. Or, in other words, our visual memory banks is in danger of running over. Votojournalism, then, is creating another visual memory stream for people to contend with in the complex history of the political process. Our visual memory of events is altered by a relentless stream of image -- images that simplify and reduce the complexities of our times to an informational/representational system that appears increasingly biased and unvetted.
October 05, 2007 in Campaign pictures, Citizen journalism, consumer culture, Copyright, Dennis Dunleavy, digital cameras, digital literacy, digital media and teaching, digital media_, digitally altered pictures, elections, Journalism, media consolidation, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Media Manipulation, mini-digital video, Mobile Journalists, moblogging, new technologies, photo digital manipulation, Photo-ops, Photoblogging, photoblogs, photographic ritual, Photographs and Politics, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Photoshop, Picture Editing, point and shoot cameras, Political pictures, politics, Politics and Photography, propaganda, public domain, public journalism, techpresident, visual culture citicism, visual journalism education, visual perception, Visual Rhetoric and Metaphor, votojournalism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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This blog has suffered in recent months due to the fact that all the free time seems to have been sucked out of the schedule.
Recently, we have been at work designing and implementing a new series of courses at Southern Oregon University called Digital Media Foundations. The inspiration for the project came at a time when the university was wrestling with a $4 million budget deficit. People were being laid off and academic programs cut.
During this period, fortunately, opportunities to reorganize some of our programs also came up. With all the turmoil going on, a few instructors and very supportive deans decided to look into ways of optimizing learning experiences offered to students, especially in the areas of digital art, visual journalism, video production, and web design.
We started out by counting how many courses across disciplines teach pretty much the same things such as digital software applications, digital photography, and digital video. It was actually surprising to see so much overlap in content across the curriculum. The idea wasn't to replace existing courses, but to collaborate on integrative ways of teaching digital and technological skills to incoming students.
After months of meetings, the first of the DMF sequence of courses got off the ground. With four instructors lecturing and working in labs, students are being exposed to thinking through the language of our increasingly digitally-based visual world. In other words, the course explores some of the fundamentals of visual narrative, design, and critical thinking about the creation and consumption of visuals in a digital age.
Interestingly, the biggest challenges have not been in designing curriculum or working with students, but in helping the administration and other faculty to realize the value of an interdisciplinary approach to teaching digital and technological literacy. Despite the perception that learning institutions are often called progressive places, the speed at which change can occur seems to frustrate a lot of people. Fortunately, when momentum and timing is on your side opportunities present themselves in surprising ways.
September 30, 2007 in Ashland, Oregon, Dennis Dunleavy, digital cameras, digital literacy, digital media and teaching, digital media_, Education, Internet Learning, Journalism, Journalism Southern Oregon University, mini-digital video, moblogging, new technologies, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Southern Oregon University, teaching, technology, visual culture citicism, visual journalism education, ways of seeing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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We've have come a long way in photography since the days of hauling around several clunky Nikon bodies and a gazillion lenses. Everything about using the iPhone indicates that designers are figuring out ways to tap into the experience of seeing. Designers know that we are all children at heart and the closer technology plays into our senses and experiences, the more effective the design will be.
The iPhone, or in this case the "eye phone", allows those of us who are serious about photography to lighten up a bit. Sure there are issues with the technology, but there is something else at work here beyond the limitations of focal length and white balance.
In a sense, the camera phone is changing the way people see and experience seeing the world in new and exciting ways. Seeing is becoming an experience now -- the results are so immediate, and for the most part pleasing -- that we can not escape how the capturing of images has morphed into an extension of ourselves. We no longer just make pictures to capture a moment that is personally important for us to remember, we are making pictures because the camera makes it so much more enjoyable and easier to do so.
In some ways, yes, because the way we see is being driven by the way in which we interact with the technology.
It didn't take all that long to succumb to the power of the new iPhone. I've always been a little skeptical of new fads in technology, but this thing is something else all together. With all the hype about the device in the media I wasn't all that convinced that the phone could live up to the all-in-one personal media device label. It was a pleasant surprise.
Earlier in the day, I asked one of the technicians at school if he had purchased the phone yet. He paused, looked up at me with a smile, and said, "I was on the line the day the phone arrived. I got number 42."
I couldn't tell him that he was a little crazy waiting for hours for a piece of technology, but I can understand the passion.
After only a day, it seems clear that the phone has a lot of built-in potential to stay even more connected than ever. With a calendar, iPod, camera phone, email and the Internet, the only thing it seems to not do is make coffee. Maybe that will be coming with the first upgrade.
Ashland, for a small town, is a pretty wired place and it was easy to maintain access to the Internet and email all day. Now, it's only a matter of time before these device get cheaper, smaller and even more efficient.
August 01, 2007 in Ashland, Oregon, camera phones, Citizen journalism, Dennis Dunleavy, digital cameras, digital literacy, early adopters, iPhone_, Photo-ops, Photoblogging, photoblogs, photographic ritual, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Picture Editing, point and shoot cameras, Southern Oregon University, technology, visual journalism education, visual perception, Visual Rhetoric and Metaphor, ways of seeing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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As our visual culture becomes accustomed to digital photography, are people becoming more apathetic about the digital alteration of pictures in the media? Will people come to expect that most of the pictures they view in the media today have been electronically enhanced in some way? If so, how will this acceptance, impact journalism and photography as a source of information and reportage?
Last year, I surveyed photographers about their attitudes and perceptions concerning the digital manipulation of photographs, especially within the context of news reportage. This year, I would like to continue to ask respondents about the alternation of images with a brand new survey. However, the questions in this survey are far broader with the hope of collecting responses from a wider audience. Just how serious are people about photo digital manipulation?
What I discovered last year was that only about half of the more than 480 respondents believed they could detect a picture when it was digitally altered. Only 6 percent strongly agreed with the statement, "I can tell when a photograph has been altered." At the same time, 85 percent of the respondent agreed that they had seen a digitally manipulated picture in the media within the last five years.
This year's annual survey is different in that it seeks to understand how people define photo digital manipulation. The survey also explores how significant digital manipulation is as an issue in society. Further, at the bottom of each question is an area for comments, which is something last year's survey lacked. Broad participation in this survey is encouraged as it is not only designed for professionals, but for enthusiasts as well.
July 01, 2007 in Current Affairs, Dennis Dunleavy, digital cameras, digitally altered pictures, Journalism, Journalism Southern Oregon University, Media Bias, media consolidation, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Media Manipulation, national press photographers association, photo digital manipulation, photo digital manipulation survey, photo fakery, Photoblogging, photoblogs, photographic ritual, Photographs and Politics, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Photoshop, Picture Editing, TED awards, visual journalism education, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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The writer lists some of the high-tech features available
today in cameras such as, "red-eye" reduction and the elimination of
facial blemishes and pounds. Of course, there are even more features to
come, all of which will enhance our experiences, fix and frame reality
for us, and make the world a better place for our children.
Musgrove contends, "Digitally enhanced photos are starting to bump up against the real world. A few news photographers have lost their jobs for digitally tinkering with their shots, but there's weirder stuff afoot as well."
Without beating a dead pixel here, it's worthwhile considering the larger societal implications of a culture that will actually have to face up to the fact that photography has never been an objective process. Today, digital technology is forcing us to realize that we've been in denial about the process of making pictures since its inception.
We like to think that what we are seeing in a picture is real. Sure, a picture is real, but it also a social construction -- a contrivance of will, an act of authority, a whim, muse, or something that tickles our fancy. This is what's real about photography. When we freeze, fix, and frame a moment in time and space we are essentially excluding a million other moments that are equally as real. A picture is real only in the sense that it represents a fragment of reality. If we alter a fragment of the real in some way during or after a picture is made how much are we altering reality?
This is a particularly sticky problem for some of us when we begin to realize how the whole logic surrounding the notion of reality or what is real is flawed.
Pictures serve personal and public needs, and by doing so they exist contently within the realm of subjectivity.
Science and technology makes it possible to re-render reality in and out of the camera -- correct the objectionable -- make the imperfect, perfect.
Ultimately, what this really means is that in an imperfect world, digital technology makes it possible for life to appear picture perfect.
April 16, 2007 in altered images, Dennis Dunleavy, digital cameras, digital literacy, digitally altered pictures, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Media Manipulation, Mike Musgrove, photo digital manipulation, photo fakery, Photo-ops, Photoblogging, photoblogs, photographic ritual, Photographs and Politics, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Photoshop, Picture Editing, visual culture citicism, visual journalism education, visual perception, Visual Rhetoric and Metaphor, Washington Post, ways of seeing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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At a time when public confidence in journalism continues to slip, questionable professional practices or lapses in personal judgment are having as much an impact on the industry as they have on a given individual.
Last month, when, Toledo Blade photographer Allan Detrich digitally altered an image to make it less distracting, his actions, whether intentional or accidental, provide yet even more fuel to the fire of public distrust. Apparently, Detrich's creative license may prove to extend beyond this one incident.
We now have reached a point in our society when, at times, the media seems determined to abdicate a portion of its commitment to the truth, for expediency.
As a representative of an industry already under intense public scrutiny, Detrich, who recently resigned from the newspaper, now joins a growing list of photojournalists, such as Charlotte Observer photographer Patrick Schneider, Lebanese freelancer Adnan Hajj, and Los Angeles Times photographer Brian Walski, who have succumbed in recent years to the temptations of digital technology.
The big question these incidents raise is simple: Why do some photographers feel compelled to manipulate images, while others live with what they get? Getting to the answer, however, is far more complex and may reside actually in a culture, which excels in competition and individualism.
People do not like being lied to. Digital manipulation, the addition or subtraction of contributing or distracting elements in a frame, is a type of fraud and lying.
Jonathan Wallace observes, “The reason that I hate lies is because, like you, I wish to navigate carefully through life, and to do so I must be able to calculate my true position. When you lie to me, you know your position but you have given me false data which obscures mine.”
Journalists have always been moral agents of culture and societal tastes. News content falls within an informational/representational system that changes over time. Journalism has its good times and its bad times throughout history. Within this informational/representational system, however, truth has always remained a core journalistic virtue. Journalists must struggle to obtain and maintain truth in reportage because every situation they encounter is slightly different – always presenting differing degrees of moral complexity.
The act of altering an image to correct a deficiency may seem innocent enough on the surface, but deeper down the shift from fact to fiction signifies a moral choice that is informed by either ignorance or duplicity. Regardless of motive or rationale, Detrich’s case should remind us that journalists function to serve the public good through a series of professional and societal expectations and obligations that are imposed upon them.
In this digital age, these expectations and obligations become intensified to the point, where opportunities to make things look better or to get the better of the competition are just too easy.
Ultimately, it seems not to matter how rigorous and vigilant the media is in detecting and ousting those who lie through their photography and reporting. The damage is done -- public faith, once again, is lost.
April 13, 2007 in Allan Detrich, Current Affairs, Dennis Dunleavy, Design, digital cameras, digital literacy, Journalism Southern Oregon University, Los Angeles Times, media consolidation, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Media Manipulation, Moral complexity, photo collage, photo digital manipulation, photographic ritual, Photographs and Politics, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Picture Editing, Reuters, reuters adnan hajj, Southern Oregon University, teaching, technology, Toledo Blade, visual culture citicism, visual journalism education, visual perception, Visual Rhetoric and Metaphor, ways of seeing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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On Friday, the Associated Press announced it will be working with PublicNow.com to expand access to news as it happens. PublicNow has a membership base of more than 60,000 citizen journalists in 140 countries, while the AP remains the world's largest news gathering operation with more than 4,000 employees.
Potentially the partnership could revolutionize mass media by doing away with the boundaries between amateur and professional content production. It will be interesting to see how PublicNow contributors understand and comply with the conventions, standards, and ethics of mainstream journalistic practice.
According to Managing Editor for Multimedia Lou Ferrera:
"In the early stages of the relationship, AP bureaus will work with NowPublic communities in selected locations on ways to enhance regional news coverage. National AP news desks also may tap the network in breaking news situations where citizen contributors may capture critical information and images. NowPublic also will help AP extend its coverage of virtual communities, such as social networks and contributed content sites."
The collaboration, however, seems to signify a trend in the industry to capture competition for content in an already content-saturated media environment. A few months ago, Yahoo and Reuters joined forces by inviting citizen shutterbugs to submit images of breaking news events.
Although the merger of professional and citizen-sourced content is inevitable in an age of instant communication, the road ahead may be a bit bumpy for an industry already struggling to maintain credibility and public trust.
As images and events continue to flood into the newsrooms of AP, Reuters, and other organization from citizen-sources, what is to prevent public relations firms and the government from trying to make propaganda appear more legitimate. If I worked for a company that wanted to get on the news wires to sell a product or brand a name, I would be thinking really hard right now how to take advantage of the collaborative trends.
Already, news seems so saturated with an array of pseudo-events that stretch the definition of what constitutes relevant and significant information.
Ultimately, wire services and Websites will be challenged to ensure that citizen-sourced media is legitimate and credible. At the same time, maybe the prevailing public perception of mass media as a trustworthy source of information is so low, that it won't really make much of a difference.
Michael Tippett founder of PublicNow.com write in a recent post about the Anna Nicole Smith notes that many people are becoming concerned that the news is increasingly sensationalist and celebrity driven.
What really struck home was Tippett's comment on how news has changed in recent years.
"Where news goes wrong is when it goes from being the messenger to being the message. Where people get bored is when news produces celebrity instead of reporting on it."
February 11, 2007 in blogging, censorship, Citizen journalism, Copyright, Current Affairs, Dennis Dunleavy, diffusion of innovation, digital cameras, early adopters, Education, Fair Use , First Amendment, Internet Learning, Journalism, Journalism Southern Oregon University, media consolidation, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Media Manipulation, Mobile Journalists, Personal Media, Photo-ops, Photoblogging, photoblogs, photographic ritual, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Picture Editing, point and shoot cameras, Press Freedom, propaganda, public domain, public journalism, PublicNow, Reuters, ritual, semiotics, signification, Southern Oregon University, technology, visual culture citicism, visual journalism education, Visual Rhetoric and Metaphor, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Yahoo News photos | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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Technological innovation has always played a significant role in the history of photography. With innovations in digital technology––cameras, computers, image editing software and telephony––photographic routines in photojournalism are being driven by a relentless push toward faster, cheaper and greater quantities of information.
Digital technology increasingly intensifies and fundamentally changes the way people think, feel and act toward making images. Albeit an overly deterministic and simplistic comment, the consequences of shifting from film-based to digital photography are only just now emerging. It seems fairly obvious to me that there is a strong relationship between how productive and how empowered a photographer feels using a digital camera. However, do these facets of routine necessarily change the nature of photography?
Perhaps not in the way we think.
As many observers have argued, it has been suggested that the camera, be it film or digital, is a tool for communicating information and ideas between a source and a user. The camera is an extension of the seer and the seen. People tend to act predictably in front of and behind the camera, but the immediacy of the digital format is what alters the experience from prior experiences with film.
The speed in which communication takes place in a digital age does have the potential to impact the encounter significantly. Moreover, it is not only the camera that is changing the landscape of how we capture and exchange “moments” and “memories.” Along with the camera, the user must how become familiar with other technologies, including computers, software programs, and electronic storage, and telephony, especially cellular technology.
All of this complicates how we talk about digital photography, because it’s not just about taking pictures anymore. It is about how we take, select, size, store, and share the images with one another on printed page or computer screen. It is about how we decide to interact with one another when making pictures with a digital camera. It is about the science as well as the moral agency of making pictures in a digital age.
In a recent survey of professional photojournalists 75 percent of respondents claimed that they not received training in the use of the digital camera. In fact, most of the knowledge photojournalists have about digital technology comes from word of mouth or the Internet.
Even higher education has been hard pressed to keep up with these transitions. For Jon Jeffery, “New technologies have recently changed the universal body of knowledge that defines the foundation for teaching in professional photographic education.”
In the classroom, the changes in what students are required to know about photography is not just about making technically clean, well composed and meaningful images. The days of standing under the amber and red safelights in a darkroom watching prints develop are ending. Now, students must understand the techno-speak of computer geeks and photo gear heads.
Students now often face the harsh reality of technological malaise with concerns over increased image contrast, dot gain, editing and storage. In an all-digital environment, photogrpahy is no longer as mysterious, magical, or even as sexy and hanging out in a darkroom making a perfect print. Digital technology makes the process of producing images for publication more clinical and less quaint.
When we think about what photographers have to do now in order to make a publication deadline compared to what we did only 15 years ago, it is easy to understand the discontent and sense of frustration expressed by some professionals.
As Grazia Neri contends, “Reflection is necessary also on the subject of the new technologies: photograph scanning, digital transmission, the Internet. Many photographers consider the advent of digital technology a collective misfortune, which it is not possible to escape. The digital world is here to stay. It is a world that can be improved.”
February 07, 2007 in Dennis Dunleavy, diffusion of innovation, digital cameras, early adopters, Internet Learning, Journalism, new technologies, photo digital manipulation, photoblogs, photographic ritual, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Picture Editing, teaching, technology, visual journalism education, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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The potential of the camera phone image to speak truth to power cannot be underestimated. As James Fallows observes, "History is driven by ideas and passions, and by unforeseeable events....History is also driven by science and technology."
When technology slams headlong into inhumane and unjustice acts, people begin to take notice. Today, we are on the verge of a digital revolution with the emergence of cell phone technologies -- one that can be seen as a positive force used to promote democracy or one that may eventually be used to destroy it.
Pictures from Abu Ghraib of U.S. soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners,the tsunami disaster, the subway bombings in London, the execution of Saddam Hussein, the massacre of Iraqi civilians by U.S. Marines in Haditha, and more recently the photographs of Egyptian police torturing suspects suggests the emergence of a hyper-mediated surveillance society.
The motivation to photograph atrocities by the perpetrators, such as in Abu Ghraib prison, Haditha, and in Egypt indicates how people in positions of power and control blindly operate by a code of conduct that is beyond any law -- human or devine. The soldiers and police making these images possess a sense superiority and impunity toward those they deem to be the enemy. The pictures they make may be made as evidence, entertain, or propaganda.
When 21-year-old Egytian minibus driver Imad Kabir was hung upside down and sodomized, his torturers recorded the proceedings with a camera phone and then transmitted the video to the Kabir's co- workers as a warning. The pictures eventually made their way onto the Internet and two police offers were jailed in the incident.
Originally conceived as an act of oppression against those opposing the government's authority, the Egyptian camera phone images reveal the often rumored and insidious truth about the mistreatment of prisoners. It is extremely difficult for any government to deny such cases of abuse when the evidence appears so indisputable.
The camera phone images we have seen in recent years are glimpses of a world we have heard about but have seldom seen. Images of atrocity and abuse, revealing the darkest side of humanity, speak truth to power as history unfolds before our eyes.
January 19, 2007 in Canon EOS Digital Cameras, censorship, Citizen journalism, Civil Rights, Current Affairs, Dennis Dunleavy, diffusion of innovation, digital cameras, Education, Family Values, First Amendment, images of violence, Internet Learning, Iraq, Iraq War, Israeli Lebanon conflict, Journalism, Journalism Southern Oregon University, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Mobile Journalists, moblogging, Moral complexity, new technologies, photo digital manipulation, photoblogs, photographic ritual, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, pictures of the year, point and shoot cameras, prisoner abuse, propaganda, public domain, public journalism, Saddam Hussein exectuion , signification, Southern Oregon University, technology, visual journalism education, Visual Rhetoric and Metaphor, visual violence, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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News Briefs on Photography and Photojournalism
San Bernardino Photojournalist Mary Frampton "A pioneer for women in photojournalism."
January 16, 2007 in Dennis Dunleavy, digital cameras, Documentary Photography, Photoblogging, photoblogs, photographic ritual, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Picture Editing, Southern Oregon University, visual journalism education | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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The camera's capacity to frame, freeze and fix experience in time has emerged from the basic human desire to shape, authenticate, and rationalize our relationship to the world and our place in it. Today, in a culture bombarded with visually-mediated messages, due in great part to the advance of digital technologies, the allure of creating and possessing increasingly personalized accounts of reality persists. The fundamental characteristics of photography -- the framing, freezing, and fixing of moments -- has become technologically less challenging and cumbersome in a digital environment. The ease and speed in which higher quality images can be made digitally empowers people to move beyond technology to concentrate more on visually storytelling. The challenge now becomes a question of how to interpret all these stories.
Today, anyone with a camera phone or point and shoot digital camera can be a visual storyteller. Advances in digital photography such as liquid lenses, faster buffers, higher resolutions, larger storage capacities, and wireless telephony signify the possibility of democratizing ways of seeing, knowing, and sharing the world with on another. Instead of looking at the advance of digital photography as a threat to privacy, the demise of photojournalism, or even an influence on decreased attention spans, the potential of building communities of observers and the observed emerges. The photograph as an extension of our desire to share, explain, celebrate, expose, explore, and denounce the human condition is being played out every day on the Internet through sites like Flickr and personal photo blogs.
However, the photograph is also very much a highly redacted and rarefied slice of life -- one in which the photographer's intention sometimes becomes suspect. Even at its very best, the photograph can never replace the array of moral complexities present at the moment of capture. At the same time, with the increasing advance of digital technologies there appears to be an urgency in questioning the authenticity of the image as well as the credibility of the photographer.
Tom Wheeler in his book, Photo Fact or Photo Fiction, explores this consequence of the digital age.
Larger questions abound. What is the future of photographic credibility and, by extension, the credibility of all visual media, in an age when even amateur shutterbugs have access to increasingly affordable digital cameras...?
Johanna Drucker observes that the possibility of altering images digitally, and by extension reality, does not necessarily radically transform truth. However, what digital technologies have done, according to Drucker, is actually extend the "possibilities of sustainable disbelief." In other words, what digital photography has introduced into our naive and gullible ways of seeing the world is an increased sense of skepticism and disbelief of the visual. In a hyper-mediated world of instant everything on the Internet, this growing distrust of the visual will have positive and negative consequences. For example, since the introduction of the camera phone, we have already seen a knee-jerk crack down on making pictures in public spaces, especially in schools. However, on the positive side, the pervasiveness of the cameras in society represents the possibility for greater transparency in governance, community building and social responsibility.
As Marshall McLuhan contends all forms of media are an extension of self.
“ In this electric age we see ourselves being translated more and more into the form of information, moving toward the technological extension of consciousness” (McLuhan, 1951).
December 23, 2006 in camera phones, Dennis Dunleavy, digital cameras, Journalism Southern Oregon University, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Media Manipulation, Mobile Journalists, Moral complexity, photoblogs, photographic ritual, photography, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, public journalism, Southern Oregon University, teaching, technology, visual journalism education | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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In many situations, the impact of technological innovation in photography has had a hybridizing effect on photojournalism. In photojournalism, the push from the single frame as the sole conveyance of meaning, toward the use of multi-media, mini-digital, and audio presentation evidences this change.
The idea of a hybrid form of photojournalism suggests that a photographer must now preoccupy themselves with concerns beyond the making of singular iconic images. In a hybridized and hyper-saturated visual culture, the photographer must now be concerned with the mixing of other elements, such as video, interactivity, and sound.
The power of a single frame cannot be underestimated. In the foreseeable future, given our proclivity toward sight over sound and even the sequencing of images, the immediacy of a single frame will continue to subordinate other contributing elements. Yet the push for multimedia threatens to change all of this. Depending on your perspective, this could be a good or bad thing for photojournalism.
The fact that still photography had evolved well after the emergence of film and moving pictures supports this point. Now we are moving in a direction that aligns photojournalism more closely to film in many ways.
During the course of its evolution, the specific nature of photojournalism has derived much of its power from framing, freezing, and fixing specific moments in time. Now, in a hybridized digital environment the opportunities for amplifying these fundamental characteristics exist through the blending of interactive media and high definition.
At the same time, it is unlikely that the iconic image – that single frame that gains meaning beyond its original occurrence through repetition and recall – will fade away with the increased demand in multimedia presentations. Nevertheless, the pressure to produce packaged reportage in a multimedia format may have an impact of the way in which photographers work. In the rush to produce multiple usable images to be sequenced and packaged into a multimedia presentation, the potential for missing the most iconic and salient moment may disappear. When this happens, the danger will be that we may no longer have “decisive moments” to reflect upon, but rather a series of lesser moments strung to together with creative sequencing and sound.
The debate over the future of photojournalism has come to a head again as citizen media proponent Dan Gillmor started beating his drum once more. Gillmor's commentary is ruffling a few feathers from professionals and media observers not willing to accept, at this moment, any assessment of the field with the word "demise" in the title. In fact, Gillmor's prognostication for photojournalism is anything but new. For more than a decade people have been talking about the changes brought about by digital photography. However, what is striking here is that Gillmor's tone seems to be taking a much more emphatic quality. For example, Gillmore contends:
The pros who deal in breaking news have a problem. They can’t possibly compete in the media-sphere of the future. We’re entering a world of ubiquitous media creation and access. When the tools of creation and access are so profoundly democratized, and when updated business models connect the best creators with potential customers, many if not most of the pros will fight a losing battle to save their careers.
At the heart of this debate resides a tension between how some people define photojournalism as a professional occupation, and how others define it has an art and self-expression. The problem is that people confuse making pictures with making money. For the average consumer of images questions of aesthetics take second-place to content, especially if the subject is recognizable. How else can anyone explain why a fuzzy and overblown picture of Angelina and Brad on a beach in Africa can command millions of dollars from an agency, while freelance photojournalists risking life and limb in Iraq make barely a living wage.
In many cases, people don't even notice compositional flubs such as a telephone pole growing out of a subject's head. The average image consumer just looks through or over looks such annoyances. What the average image consumer sees is the center of focus, even with all the imperfections. At the same time, people aren't idiots. People do recognize quality and photojournalism offers a lot of it. The conventions developed in photojournalism such as the decisive moment, framing, and layering have helped to make the craft into an art form, even in the eyes of the elite. The average image consumer, armed with a camera phone,will be hard pressed to replicate a picture made by a trained photojournalist. Unfortunately, the professional photojournalist is being outgunned in terms of the increasing numbers of people willing to send in images for publication.
Gillmor's conclusion reveals the heart of the matter here:
Remember, there was once a fairly healthy community of portrait painters. When photography came along, a lot of them had to find other work; or at least their ranks were not refilled when they retired. Professional portrait photographers, similarly, are less in demand today than a generation ago. But portraits have survived — and thrived.
The photojournalist’s job may be history before long. But photojournalism has never been more important, or more widespread.
There may be a day, when the average Joe or Jan with a camera phone will start to think beyond the snap shot and produce images that are not only of-the-moment. People have the capacity to learn and put knowledge into action. What we may see, then, are people making images not just of breaking news or spot news scenes of train wrecks and police beatings but also images that have aesthetic appeals as well.
This day may not be too far off, and it is this fear that is troubling many professionals. As one photojournalist argues on the National Press Photographer Association list-serve, "Hire them, and get garbage images with trees sticking out of back of heads." Another more rational professional observes, "Eventually, I want to believe, the public and marketplace will again respect that good cameras don't make good pictures. Good photographers do. And good photographers aren't necessarily good photojournalists."
What remains important to the profession as well as to democracy is the authenticity of the frame and the credibility of the individual who produced the image. As Gillmor argues, "What does matter is the utter authenticity of the image, made so by the fact that the man was there at the right time with the right media-creation gear."
A similar battle is raging in the newswriting world as well -- one in which bloggers continue to encroach on the domain of the so-called establishment press. But just because someone can blog doesn't mean they have all the facts.
If the citizen shutterbug movement does take hold, as Gillmor predicts, it is reasonable to assume that photojournalism as an art form will continue to thrive, while photojournalism as an occupational group will suffer.
As an educator, this issue raises a lot of questions. Why continue to train photojournalists in a world where just about everyone can claim they are photojournalists? What does getting a degree in photojournalism mean when the credibility of the field continues to be attacked as it did last summer during the Israel-Hezbollah conflict. What does getting a degree in photojournalism mean when opportunities for employment seem so dismal?
The best answer to this question is reconciled by the fact that photojournalism teaches us to experience and see the world in ways that few other disciplines can match. Photojournalism is the practice of being engaged in capturing and fixing moments so that we can learn and grow from those moments. What philosophy seeks to do for helping students to think more critically and ethically, photojournalism does in helping students to see, feel, and act in the world. Photojournalism is a visual response to light and life -- one that seeks to render, explain, interrogate, expose, and discover what it means to be human.
If more people, with camera phones, come to understand and appreciate the complexities of our times so be it. At issue is not the need for more people with cameras. What is needed are more people with cameras that know and appreciate the device as a tool for illuminating and edifying, connecting and communicating, the richness of our universal human condition.
In the end, what appears to be happening now is that far too much energy is being expended on fretting over the loss of a professional occupation and not enough energy is being spent on the implications of an informed and visually literate citizenry.
December 10, 2006 in camera phones, Current Affairs, Dennis Dunleavy, digital cameras, Fair Use , First Amendment, Internet Learning, Journalism, Journalism Southern Oregon University, media consolidation, photo digital manipulation, Photoblogging, photoblogs, photographic ritual, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Picture Editing, point and shoot cameras, public journalism, sustainability, technology, visual journalism education | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
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Credit: Dennis Dunleavy, November 2006.
The Chronicle of Higher Education is linking to a story about cellphones and news content by The New York Times.
Scott Carlson writes, "At first glance, this is technology news: Yahoo and the news service Reuters are going to recruit the general public as photojournalists — the public that is already armed with an array of image-producing devices, be they high-end digital cameras or simple cellphones."
Pictures from camera phones, taken by the general public can be uploaded to Reuters or Yahoo and then distributed to other news services.
Carlson suggests, "Technology news, yes. But it is also another stark reminder that the media are less us here in the newsroom talking to you, and more of you talking to each other. That shift carries responsibility with it. This is an issue for the liberal arts as much as anything."
If true, this trend supports the general theory that information is more about immediacy and quantity than it is about reflection and critical thinking. Camera phones, in this case, will bring new meaning to the old news phrase "Feeding the Beast."
In their rush to get more and more content into the public domain the question arises as to who will be responsible for editing and vetting this new flood of images. Chief among media shortcomings in recent years has been the lack of oversight in checking the veracity and fairness of images. Some new system will have to be put into place if the "Beast" can be trusted.
December 05, 2006 in blogging, camera phones, Current Affairs, Dennis Dunleavy, digital cameras, intellectual property, Journalism, Journalism Southern Oregon University, media consolidation, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Media Manipulation, Mobile Journalists, moblogging, new technologies, photo digital manipulation, Photo-ops, Photoblogging, photoblogs, photographic ritual, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Picture Editing, point and shoot cameras, public journalism, teaching, technology, visual journalism education, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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For more than a decade now, photoblogging has increasingly become a popular mainstream online activity. Today there are thousands of blogs dedicated to photography and a handful of read/write web services committed to photoblogging. Professionals and amateur photographers use the Internet in many ways, but the two most common facets of life online comes from creating social networks as well as displaying images to large audiences.
According to David Brooks of Shutterbug magazine, a weblog becomes a photoblog “when a photograph is substituted for a text message or part of a text message, as most photoblogs have some verbal content as well as pictures.”
I conducted a recent poll of 12 randomly selected Flickr members from my own Flickr contact list to help to expand and enrich our understanding of what photoblogging is and how people build participatory social networks through the Internet.
The Flickr members in this study can be described white and range in age from 18 to 60. One quarter were ages 18 – 24, while another quarter were ages 41 – 50. Half of the respondents were female and the majority of the group were college educated. In addition, a majority (66 percent) felt extremely comfortable with digital technology. Further half the group said they use point and shoot digital cameras while the remainder uses DSLRs. Only one member still uses film.
The respondents in this non-generalized study all pretty
much agree that photoblogging to varying degrees uses blog technology
to publish pictures instead of words.
As one respondent suggests, photoblogging “Is a great way to let someone peek into your life and what surrounds it. I love looking at photoblogs of people living in other cities or countries where they're showing the small details of everyday life. The designs on fence posts, the way their mailboxes look, trees, sunsets, people walking streets shopping.. etc etc.. News and magazines can only show you so much, but with photoblogs you get a more intimate view of outside your bubble.”
Another respondent defines photoblogging as "An
aberration from traditional blogging (if blogging is old enough to
establish traditions) in that although it is still conversing on a
routine basis with strangers and friends via a web interface
(blogging), the primary distinction being the use of visual images
shared as the essence of the conversation. Images are worth a thousand
words as the axiom goes is at the heart of photoblogging.”
As one photographer notes, “Photoblogging can take many forms, but I define it as using blog technology to publish pictures instead of words. Even if you use words, pictures are you main focus. Pure photoblogging uses just images.”
For Alan Levine, “Blogs are easy to use web publishing tools that allow anyone to create chronologically organized web sites (usually narrowly labeled as "diaries") with built in search and comment features. They are template driven and usually offer a series of well designed layout displays, that can be customized by those with the skills and interest to so.”
As Brooks observes, “Even though the social connection is an obvious and significant motivation, peppered among the snapshots of myriad faces are many, many interesting images which comprise a nonverbal dialog depicting many different, individually experienced worlds, a kind of graphic, off-the-cuff poetry in often abstract colors and shapes, sometimes humorous, cynical, wondrous, or melancholy. It reflects not just the diversity of people in the world, but a plurality of different worlds of experience, thoughts, and feelings.”
The social connections photographers make online through
digital photography is doing more for the craft, not to mention the
industry, than any other singular advance since George Eastman
introduced the Kodak camera in the 1880s. This assumption, albeit a bit
grand, suggests that the ease of the digital camera and the read/write
web, like the Kodak before them, seem to be closing the gap between
amateurs and professionals. Eastman’s strategy was to make photography
accessible to those people interested in recording life moments that
would otherwise require a professional. In the information/relationship
age photoblogging, along with photo storage and sharing sites like
Flickr, Photobucket, Ofoto, and Shutterfly, changing the way people
make, share, and collect images. Although photoblogging may not be for
everyone, Eastman’s mantra, 'you press the button, we do the rest,'
seems to resonate in a digitally mediated world.
In terms of social networking, one photographer comments, “I participate in a number of "groups" related to photography. These groups include a general discussion site (utata.org) and numerous flickr groups that address specific aspects of photography. (technical, style, subject). There are individual photographers I admire, and visit with regularity to follow there work. We will comment on each others photos but the discourse is almost invariably photography related. I have not met any individuals in the online community personally although I know such "meet-ups" do occur.”
Pros and Cons
When asked about the advantages and disadvantages of photoblogging, respondents expressed a range of attitudes. One photographer finds photoblogging satisfying because “you get feedback and can share what you're doing with others.” Another said, “With photography you can discover again your own environment, posting it on Internet gives you the opportunity to share your discoveries and learn from others.” For a third respondent, “The primary advantage is that it is a creative outlet and that having the thing forces me to shoot more often.”
Another value of photoblogging seems to come from how people learn from one another online. “I get email from all over the world. People ask me questions about different things and share experiences,” one photographer said. In addition, photobloggers set up special interest groups to share information about their work and experiences. Other photographers feel that photoblogging is a source of motivation to publish and gain exposure. As one photographer observes, photoblogging “is a motivator. [It]… keeps me going out for walks and shooting. It is a journal of sorts for me...logs my moods and perspective... “
“You see what people like… browse and see what you like in others' photos, and learn from that.” Ultimately, for this respondent, photoblogging “…is fascinating people watching (the psychologist in me).”
As one photographer notes, “A disadvantage may be the addictive quality of wanting to see just one more image before bed...just one more...It is a real time consuming activity.” Another expresses the concern, “On the down side, I feel like I have to post frequently and sometimes I feel pressured just to put something up, anything at all, if I have not posted in a few days. I also feel like I need to keep taking pictures all the time to help "feed the blog."
Beyond obvious concerns over copyright theft --- something that has plagued the Internet since its inception -- many photographers spoke about issues that appear more sociological in nature. For example, one respondent observes “Another disadvantage may be the culture of "praise" that pervades the photoblogging site I frequent (Flickr).
This may provide an undue confidence when looking at building photography skills.” In addition, another photographer notes, “The temptation to please the lowest common denominator of "crowd taste" is bigger if you use this type of software platform (comments in posts).” Moreover, as a third photographer mentions, “You tend to use the same layout as anybody else because of a number of factors (time, laziness, the customizations still involves to much code which is a deterrent for the uninitiated). - For some types of photo work, customized galleries are a better way to display (but once again the technical aspects of that route forbids it for the majority of people).”
In summary, photoblogging satisfies a person's need for exposure, establishes an online identity, provides feedback, and an excellent application of social networking. At the same time, respondents revealed several disadvantages including, copyright infringement, as well as the addictive quality of feeling the need to post images regularly.
December 04, 2006 in blogging, camera phones, Copyright, Current Affairs, Dennis Dunleavy, diffusion of innovation, digital cameras, Internet Learning, Journalism Southern Oregon University, Photoblogging, photoblogs, photographic ritual, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Picture Editing, point and shoot cameras, Social Capital, technology, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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I made this image last night thinking it would be part of my Finding Nemo bath series that I have been doing for almost five years now with Liam.
Interestingly, what turned out, was anything but a cute bath picture with two adorable kids in the frame. Instead, I unexpectedly got an anti-portrait.
It's a real moment showing real children and how they interact. I've always felt portraits were sort of fantasy freeze frames and not truly representative of an individual's personality. Liam, who is being pounded on with a toy by Sophie, was fine after the bashing. I wasn't expecting Sophie to hit her brother and wasn't at all prepared to interevene at the decisive moment. However, you can bet Sophie didn't get to stay in the tub much longer after that one.
This leads me to reflect on the tradition of giving pictures as gifts to family and friends. I don't think I would frame this image for grandma, but I don't think you'd find me rushing off to Sears to have a formal portrait made either.
Ron Leiber, a staff writer for the Wall St. Journal, went in search of a place to have pictures made of his children and found a story at the same time. Leiber visited three chain portrait studios and two commercial photographers. This is a fascinating tale of America's addiction to possessing the perfect likeness of our loved ones, especially our children. We want to remember our kids as angels and not the little devils they can sometimes be. What this story brings up for me is how much money Americans pay for portraits each year.
A recent analysis from the Corel Corporation indicates a continued trend in do-it-yourself digital photography. By 2007, the report states, over 80 percent of home image takers will have more than 5,000 photos and video images stored on PCs." By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, Americans, some 80 percent, will have knowledge of how "to manipulate and improve photos or video images," the report notes.
With the costs associated with portrait studios increasing, it makes sense that people will become less dependent on commercial photographers to record life events. At the same time, professional photographers provide a level of quality that would be hard to match for the average consumer.
Ashland celebrated its annual Christmas parade and tree lighting yesterday as usual. It's a fun event for kids as the decorative lights make for a festive mood. This is a much photographed scene, and it almost seems obligatory to make a few frames.
Like many photographers, working with anything but natural light can be frustrating. There is a harshness to using an on-camera flash that takes the softness and mood out of a picture.
Learning how not to let the technology overwhelm us is the first thing we must deal with in making picture. This picture below was shot with the tiny pop up flash on-camera at 1/5 of a second. There are still issues with the fall-off but the panning action adds a sense of movement and dynamics to the frame. The flash not only illuminates the main subject, but also stops the action.
There are some differences working in a digital format if you are used to dealing with film. The sensor on a digital camera records and converts light into data differently than working with chemical processes. The exposures with a digital camera tend to have more contrast, which in turn make working with on-camera flash more difficult. With flash photography, contrast, the differences between light and dark, are already at increased levels unless the photographer can manage balancing the ambient light with the flash. Camera sensors in a digital format have not quite evolved to the point where the contrast differential is equivalent to film.Therefore, it is important to learn how to work around the contrast issues with digital photography.
NK Guy observes "Flash
photography has always been a very difficult technique to master on any camera
system. It’s easy to take a snapshot of your friends in a restaurant
and get that hideously blown-out rabbit-in-the-headlights look from built-in
automatic flash. But using electronic flash well - achieving natural-looking
images - is quite tricky."
Guy's tutorial on metering for light when using flash is a helpful resource for understanding how to make better pictures.
Commercial photo Neil van Niekerk dislikes the heavy shadows that comes from using flash. In fact, the heavy shadow often produce by the flash can ruin a picture. van Niekerk has learned to manage light using flash very effectively."I'm a heavy user of flash - most of my photos have flash one way or another. But I try and hide that fact."
The first thing that has to happen to make better images is to get out of the "auto-everything" mentality. Setting the camera on manual, experimenting with light, practice, and perseverance will make a great difference in the pictures you produce.
As Mike Pasini, editor of Imaging Resource Newsletter, suggests, "slow synch can combine a bit of natural light exposure with the flash. It simply leaves the shutter open longer than the strobe needs to fire. And that can add detail to the background in your image."
Since we can review images immediately after capture it is easier now than ever before what works and what doesn't in photography. The best way to learn anything is to practice with the flash until the point where you know exactly what the picture will look like after capture. This takes a little time, but it is well worth the trouble.
November 25, 2006 in Ashland, Oregon, camera flash, Canon EOS Digital Cameras, digital cameras, Internet Learning, Journalism, Journalism Southern Oregon University, Photoblogging, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism education, Picture Editing, Southern Oregon University, visual journalism education | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
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Robert Gumpert is among those rare photojournalists who seek to promote ways of looking at the world through the lens of conscientiousness and compassion. Every so often he sends out one of his thought-provoking PDF postcards that addresses an overlooked social concern. "Tools and Machines" speaks to how simple innovations can have huge impacts on society, the environment, and even the way we look. In this postcard, Gumpert speaks to the truth when he writes:
Who among us hasn't had the feeling that the more time-saving devices we have -- washing machines, mobiles, computers, cars -- the less time we seem to have and the more hectic our lives are.
We have created for ourselves a culture of convenience for convenience sake. Everything, it would seem, appears packaged for us in a way that offers to make our lives simpler, faster, and cheaper.
Digital photography, especially camera phones, are a perfect example of how enamored we have become of technology without considering the implications of such a dependence upon it.
So where is this all taking us as a culture?
Natali Del Conte, a writer for PCMagazine, reported last week on a conference that is looking into future digital photographic markets aimed primarily at women, especially mothers with easy-to-use digital cameras and camera phones. Del Conte observers.
The word of the day at Digital Imaging was "personal." "Digital imaging is personal," or "the experience needs to be personal," or "the devices need to be personal." But the ecosystem has not completely built itself out yet. With so many photo sharing sites with such different features and subscription models, everyone seems to be waiting to see what will stick with consumers.
But does digital photography really make things more personal? I am not so sure. Unquestionably, it is easier to fill up our flash card with images, but what do most of these images communicate -- what do they day about us and our world?
There may be a push in the market to make devices more personal, but without an understanding of how our images construct preferable and often times imagined social realities that distract us from arriving at really deeper intimacies with ourselves and the world we live, the whole thing appears to be, once again, about making money.
November 02, 2006 in Current Affairs, digital cameras, Internet Learning, Journalism, Journalism Southern Oregon University, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Media Manipulation, Mobile Journalists, new technologies, Photoblogging, photographic ritual, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Picture Editing, Southern Oregon University, sustainability, teaching, technology, visual journalism education, Visual Rhetoric and Metaphor, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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Photo Credit: Jim Young/Reuters
In a recent survey of blog readers a majority of respondents believe that photo ops constitute a form of manipulation. In the poll (n=380), 22 percent or readers strongly agreed and another 42 percent agreed with the statement "I think photo-ops arranged for the media are a form of manipulation."
It is no secret that a news photograph can convey perspectives, attitudes, and desires more immediately than words. When Yahoo news selected a Rueters image to accompany a story on Bush's conference on school violence, the editors knew what they were doing. The image, a picture made a week earlier in Stockton, California, has all the right stuff. It presents the President in a favorable patriotic light. Using the rule of thirds the photographer carefully frames Bush within a sea of waving flags.
We read pictures literally and symbolically.
In this case, the symbolism easily subsumes the literal meaning of Bush and the flags in the frame. In fact, the crowd of people, no telling exactly no many, become secondary information. It's all about portraying a sense of strength and nationalism here. But what does this image have to do with the President's upcoming conference on school violence?
The trite answer is nothing and everything. The juxtaposition of a week-old photo-op from California on top of a story about Bush's concerns conference are tangential at best. Nevertheless, a careful observer must learn to read between the lines here.
Can images that are juxtaposed against an unrelated text indicate a predisposition on the part of the editors to prime audiences in a particular ideological way?
October 10, 2006 in Bush, Current Affairs, Dennis Dunleavy, digital cameras, Education, George W. Bush, Journalism Southern Oregon University, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Media Manipulation, Photoblogging, photoblogs, photographic ritual, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Picture Editing, visual journalism education, Visual Rhetoric and Metaphor, Yahoo News photos | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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What do news diva Katie Couric (above) and a model posing for a
picture (below) from one of the latest in a long line of
point-and-shoot digital cameras have in common?
The reality is that both images have been altered significantly. We are looking at different forms of manipulation. Both pictures have been digitally altered. The surprise here is that the alterations of the picture showing the model was actually done inside the camera.
Couric's image was manipulated in post-production process to make her look thinner. Couric is in good company. Other celebs such as Oprah Winfry, Martha Stewart, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Kate Winslet have also gotten the Photoshop slim fast treatment during the past few years.
This is the way our culture operates -- women are suppose to appear as waifish as paper plates otherwise men will not find them attractive. Men, on the other hand, are support to look manly -- tough yet intelligent.
When was the last time someone the likes of Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly had a little Photoshop tummy tuck?
Now, with Hewlett Packard's slimming feature everyone can be just like Katie, after Photoshop of course.
In HP's latest sales pitch for its digital cameras there is a series of step by step slides that takes the viewer through the simplicity of the "slimming" feature. Losing weight has never been easier or as surreal.
So, what do Couric and the HP ad hand have in common?
To begin with these two examples illustrate the pervasive nature of image manipulation has become in our culture. Why should anyone care if a news image is altered if they have already have the capacity to mess with just about any picture, inside and outside of the camera?
With the ability to alter reality in an instance with the touch of a button -- the digital camera requires no skill in altering a person's appearance -- I am reminded of the French theorist Jean Baudrilliard's classic work on the notion of simulacra. The term simulacra refers to an unsatisfactory imitation of reality – something where only a copy of something exists. There is no original.
Society has arrived at the age of the simulacrum -- a time where the image, according to Baudrillard:
Is the reflection of a basic reality.
Masks and perverts a basic reality.
Masks the absence of a basic reality.
Bears no relation to any reality whatever: it is its own pure simulacrum.
Once stripped of its original truth, the sign and the reality it is imbued it with have no equivalence. This imbroglio -- this inability to distinguish fact from fiction -- bears down on us with tremendous force.
August 30, 2006 in camera phones, Current Affairs, Dennis Dunleavy, digital cameras, Education, Journalism Southern Oregon University, Katie Couric, new technologies, photo digital manipulation, Photoblogging, photoblogs, photographic ritual, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, Picture Editing, Southern Oregon University, teaching, technology, visual journalism education, Visual Rhetoric and Metaphor | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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The photograph exists in the world as a real object.
The idea that we can hold on to experiences through the fixing of a moment in time as a photograph is compelling. The act of making images is ritualized by patterns of behaviors.
The social functions of a photograph are diverse and numerous. The social function of the photograph performs a variety of personal and social needs including the need, to inform, evident, validate, entertain, criticize, report, illuminate, or instruct.
Photography can become a ritualized activity because many of the processes that go into the making of a picture appear automatic and second nature.
At the same time, we shouldn't confuse how the term ritual as primarily been connected to religious ceremony. In this context, we are extending the original ideas about ritual to extend to daily life.
Ever since the Kodak One camera in the late 1800s, the visual behavior associated with making images have become part of every day life – with one hand we reach for a Kleenex to wipe the tears from our eyes, while with the other hand we reach for a camera to record the moment. There is no denying the emotional associations that move us to document moments in time.
For Catherine Bell (1992), A ritual may be “described as particularly thoughtless action -- routinized, habitual, obsessive, or mimetic-and therefore the purely formal, secondary, and mere physical expression of logically prior ideas.” In photography, ritual refers primarily to those activities that become embedded in all stages of the picture making process including, pre-visualization, interaction with subjects, composition, technical considerations, image capture, and post-production.
Thinking of photography as an activity guided by embedded ritual -- the interaction between photographer and subject, pose, gesture, shot, another pose, another shot, edit, presentation – all suggests patterns of behavior that govern expectations and obligations in the process.
Photographic ritual create conditions of knowing and being.
All of the expectations and obligations associated with the making of a picture illustrate the ritualized nature of photography.
When I make a picture, I expect it to come out, be of reasonably high quality, capture a moment that is meaningful to me, and represent what I am looking at accurately. Therefore, there are certain routines I engage in to make sure that my expectations are met.
In terms of obligation, most of what I feel toward my subject comes through the picture I make. I feel obligated to make a picture that the subject will be happy with (this is in a personal context, not necessarily in a photojournalistic context). I feel obligated to build a rapport with the person I am photographing that honors the individual when possible.
August 27, 2006 in camera phones, Dennis Dunleavy, digital cameras, Documentary Photography, Education, Internet Learning, Journalism Southern Oregon University, photo digital manipulation, Photoblogging, photoblogs, photographic ritual, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Picture Editing, ritual, scrapbooks, semiotics, signification, Southern Oregon University, teaching, technology, visual journalism education, Visual Rhetoric and Metaphor | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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The last few weeks have proved to be quite troubling for many observers of the media, especially the field of photojournalism.
The level of public scrutiny now given to images by the general public, especially on the Internet, is unprecedented. Political interests on all sides of the Middle East conflict are holding the social conscious of this nation hostage. Increasingly, audiences are called upon to become more visually literate when interpreting news images. News photography, which at one time maintained at least the perception of validity and truthfulness, is being undermined by a growing throng of disbelievers.
During the first two weeks of fighting between Hezbollah and Israel, media coverage has become suspect as cases of photo-digital manipulation, events staged for the camera, and captioning errors come more fully to light. One blog, Zombietime, encourages readers to consider the importance of understand how images can be manipulated. The site offers tips on identifying four kinds of photographic fraud and lists the Associated Press, Reuters, and The New York Times as perpetrators.
Zombietime’s analysis of news photography concludes four types of common manipulations:
1. Digitally manipulating images after the photographs have been taken.
2. Photographing scenes staged by Hezbollah and presenting the images as if they were of authentic spontaneous news events.
3. Photographers themselves staging scenes or moving objects, and presenting photos of the set-ups as if they were naturally occurring.
4. Giving false or misleading captions to otherwise real photos that were taken at a different time or place.
The speed and immediacy of the Internet enables critics, on the left and the right of center, to identity, denounce, and defend news imagery that would otherwise go unnoticed by the masses. News organizations are responding to catch and punish any transgressors that undermine the integrity of the Fourth Estate, but they may be too late.
A recent analysis of how the media was manipulated after the Israeli bombing of Qana Lebanon illustrates this point brilliantly. In a short video the German news magazine Zapp shows how one rescuer, referred to as the Green Helmet, directs coverage of the events for the international press. Did Hezbollah choreograph the aftermath of the bombing to solicit outrage and sympathy in the Arab world? Many people believe that wide-scale manipulation of the press corps was and continues to be a reality.
The big question now is what happens to our historic collective memory if the images we view are continually the subject of disbelief? Will we become a nation of hate-mongering cynics?
For Hardt (1999), “Photographs, like all cultural products, have conditions and contexts that are based on historically determined cultural conventions, forms, beliefs, and perceptions.”
Despite the current uproar concerning the veracity of photojournalistic practices, there is still the question of how these images, manipulated or not, impact foreign policy decision. Is there anyway to truly calculate the impact pictures have on public perception? Was Israel's cease-fire after the bombing of Qana a sign that the government was reacting to outside pressure after millions of people around the world were subjected to pictures of the dead, especially children?
Following how the media covers an issue like the present conflict in the Middle East is a little like watching a tennis match. One side hits the ball and the audience turns its collective head toward where the ball might land. Then, there is the return, and the audience is driven back. This is the way news images are presented to us. One series of pictures showing the news of the day, all of them fairly similar in content.
Washington Post writer Peter Baker (2006) observes, “With each new scene of carnage in southern Lebanon, outrage in the Arab world and Europe has intensified against Israel and its prime sponsor, raising the prospect of a backlash resulting in a new Middle East quagmire for the United States, according to regional specialists, diplomats and former U.S. officials.”
This summer our Violence and Visual Culture class at Southern Oregon University tracked the first two weeks of the conflict in four newspapers. Students counted the number, size, placement, source, and characteristics of the content from July 14 through July 31 in The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Portland Oregonian, and the Medford Mail Tribune.
Some of the questions we were trying to answer included:
Are there significantly more images showing dead and dying Lebanese civilians than Israeli civilians? If so, why? If there are more pictures of dead Lebanese than Israeli would world outcry change policy?
The content analysis conducted by the class examines only the beginning of the conflict -- a period of time when most the pictorial representations of the destruction in Lebanon and Israel occurred.
A total of 186 images in all four papers, with the lion's share (n=105) depicted in The New York Times.
Sixty-nine images depicted Lebanese civilians, while only 26 showed Israel civilians. In another area, 40 pictures showed Israel soldiers, while two images of Hezbollah fighters and 2 of Lebanese soldiers were used.
Can any conclusions be drawn from looking at images that play on the emotions of viewers?
Here are some data (early and unscrubbed) from the analysis. It would be interesting to have an online conversation about the possible implications of the role of images on public perception and foreign policy.
August 11, 2006 in adnan hajj qana,, blogging, Current Affairs, data-mining, Dennis Dunleavy, digital cameras, Education, Gary Hershorn Reuters, images of violence, Internet Learning, Iraq, Iraq War, Israeli Lebanon conflict, Journalism, Journalism Southern Oregon University, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Media Manipulation, Moral complexity, new technologies, New York Times front paqe, photo digital manipulation, Photo-ops, Photoblogging, photoblogs, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Picture Editing, propaganda, Reuters, reuters adnan hajj, Southern Oregon University, teaching, technology, visual journalism education, Visual Rhetoric and Metaphor, visual violence, war photography, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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This Spring, our Public Journalism class at Southern Oregon University produced a number of insightful works on our blog "Student Matters". The issues covered ranged from popular entertainment to politics. Overall, the project was a welcome and exciting exploration into the brave new world of Internet communication.
Unceremoniously, we approached “blogging” and its environs the “Blogosphere” with a good bit of trepidation. As a first of its kind experiment on the SOU campus, our goal was relatively simple –Open up a conversation on campus about issues that matter to students.
This is what blogging does, for better or worse.
Blogging opens up to the world conversations between students and teachers, students and students, and community and students.
Stephen Downes in the online magazine Educause Review defines educational blogging as a form of personal publishing.
A blog, therefore, is and has always been more than the online equivalent of a personal journal. Though consisting of regular (and often dated) updates, the blog adds to the form of the diary by incorporating the best features of hypertext: the capacity to link to new and useful resources. But a blog is also characterized by its reflection of a personal style, and this style may be reflected in either the writing or the selection of links passed along to readers.
Blogs are the core of what has come to be called personal publishing in an increasingly hyper-staurated world of information.
We explored the potentialities of public journalism through blogging about our college campus in both theory and practice. We took what we learned from listening to others in the community that have come before us. We followed the discourse about blogging and how it can affect change.
Ultimately, we created the Student Matters blog as an online journal and a space to explore the principles of community-based learning.
Essentially, community-based learning signifies proactive engagement in problem solving. In this case, students determined that our community was on campus and that it would generate a sufficient number of issues worthy of reporting. Some of these issues included, the Higher One banking system, the search for a new university president, residence hall and health center policies, free speech on campus, and other matters students deal with while enrolled in college.
Writing assignments were divided into three categories: journalistic reportage, opinion and commentary and arts and entertainment reviews. Right from the start, the biggest obstacle in this class centered around learning how people define “public journalism.”
In the emerging world of Internet communication, especially in the Blogosphere, we quickly discovered that there are more questions raised by the activity than there were answers. Everyone seems to define public journalism differently.
At the heart of the issues of surrounding public journalism, also known as participatory or citizen journalism, resides a tension.
Cynthia Care, a student who investigated community-building and sustainability issues, comments, “Today there is a conflict between corporate interests and the accessibility of communication, information and knowledge via the Internet.” The very public nature of blogging, one that is inherently more personal in tone than practiced by traditional “objective” or “impartial” journalists, produces a dialect of incredulity.
Jerry Clarkson eloquently explains the problem with blogging and public journalism is mostly one of perception. As Clarkson argues:
“Public journalists tend to more activist in their approach. While this activism role might appear to create a biased approach and therefore foster trust issues, I believe that it works in reverse. Once we acknowledge our biases those reading our critiques can understand our frame of the story and accept the honesty with which we approach it.”
Care observes that the oft-noted public frustration with corporate media as provided the impetus for public journalism.
In her essay, “The Internet as a Tool for Common Good,” Care examines the historical context between private and public interests. She explores the notion of “the commons” as a “set of inherited gifts” that everyone has access to. Historically, these “inherited gifts” were assigned to natural resources, but later included social and cultural gift. It is this second set of “gift” (cultural and social) that the writer notes as “gifts” of language, art, science, and now, the Internet. For Care, and many others, the Internet has become a social and cultural commons, “an inexpensive forum for public expression, which is easily accessible to independent voices.”
Tensions or conflicts between public and private forms of expression and reportage are rooted in how people perceive one form over another.
Matt Gemmell, a photojournalism major, defines public journalism as “any news produced by someone other than a professional journalist.” Now, the user is faced with the challenge of choice.
During the quarter, students analyzed online stories from the local newspapers to find that feedback forms on the Internet allow readers to correct inconsistencies and incongruities of the account.
In one story about a motorcycle accident in front of the University, comments about the story ranged from eyewitness accounts to the incident that were not reported in the newspapers, as well as a correction posted by the sister of the motorcyclist. In this way, readers could hold the newspaper more accountable on the Internet than they could in the antecedent traditional print format.
Jeremiah Page sums up the phenomenon by contending, “People can hold
the journalist responsible for accuracy, bias, conventions, and
relevancy. Instead of simply learning about something and being told
about an event we can be part of the solution. This is revolutionary!”
Gemmell points out further by claiming that, “public journalism is redefining the way we think of tradition journalism.”
For Page, “Public journalism takes journalism into a completely new sphere that has never been possible before. Public journalism has transformed the recipient into a potential participant.”
Donald Lind, a gradating journalism major, believes, “Today’s media is easy to dismiss as untrustworthy. But today’s technology can challenge the press like never before.”
At the same time, William Hastings found that the notion of public journalism promulgates controversy. “I feel that we are ‘feeling’ our way through the many [implications] the Internet can have for journalism, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.”
One of the analytical frameworks used to explicate blogging in the course was Robert Putnam’s idea of “social capital”, which builds upon Metcalfe’s law of the Internet. Metcalfe, who is credited with developing the Ethernet, believes the number of possible linkages between users of the Internet grows as the square of the number of linkages increases. Moreover, Metcalfe’s law states that the community value of a network of users grows as the square number increases.
Imagine the blogosphere as an enormous shopping mall with millions of rental shops. Every time the user selects one shop to browse in they are immediately connected,
indirectly and directly, to all of the others. For Hastings, “Ultimately, public journalism [on the Internet] allows us to connect to one another. This is a central process in making change and broadening … perspective.”
Interconnectivity and social networking, something that is inherently part of the blogosphere, presented itself several times during the quarter.
For example, after a student posted a rather pointed criticism of the financial Higher One banking system, one of the corporation’s founders responded to the blog. In a surprising act of transparency, the executive apologized for any problems the student may have had and encouraged him to follow up if he hadn’t been taken care of soon. Interestingly, other students began posted comments and complaints about the banking service to the site.
Although the students’ comments were in no way journalistic in any traditional sense, the posting could certainly give way to more investigative reportage in the future. Perhaps, this is what the executive understands. That if he were to let even the most seemingly innocuous and obscure blog posts to go unanswered more disgruntlement may emerge.
On the other hand, perhaps the executive’s concerns were genuine and sincere, and that his intentions were socially and corporately responsible. In some respects, the Internet brings journalism back to a time when writer felt free to lash out at corporations and governments – back to a time of Nellie Bly, Upton Sinclair, George Seldes, and I.F. Stone.
As Lind contends, “Instant access to the world has allowed citizens to take apart news stories that might have been universally accepted a decade ago.” The dynamic and interactive agency of blogging suggests how the Internet makes older ways of gathering and using information obsolete.
Students learned about their own work through the study of Marshall McLuhan’s four laws of the media, which claim that newer technologies extend media and make them stronger, reverses some of the older media’s characteristics, generates new forms of communication and media, and finally, enhances qualities of media.
The reality many of us are coming to terms with now is that the future is already here and waiting for us to join in the larger conversation that public journalism promotes. As Eric Hidle points out, “With new technology comes the obsolescent of old mediums.” In his research Hidle discovered that nearly three of every four Americans now have access to the Internet.
Along with the growth of the Internet comes social networking Websites, such as MySpace, Friendster, Live Journal, Friendzy, Tribe, FriendSurfer, PeepsNation, Emode, and others, that continue to command increasingly larger audiences. In fact social networking websites have risen 47 percent over the past year and online news sites have risen accordingly with them. Hidle’s research of bloggers at Southern Oregon University is significant.
To put it simply: people are online, they are connected and they are informed. To compare the current state of our student body with the world would be unfair. Students at Southern Oregon University are technologically far ahead of the standard citizen.
Every student enrolled in SOU has access to the internet through local computer labs. And, as of June 13, 2006 1,309 students are registered to Southern’s facebook.com network and 1,873 students are registered to Southern’s MySpace.com network.
This is approximately 40 percent of the student body networked with each other. It can also be reasonably estimated that many students registered with such sites do not belong to Southern’s groups but do network with other members who are enrolled in the school.
For educators as well as students, it is important to consider the obvious implications of such statistics.
Teaching and learning is changing with the Internet. Students are by and large vastly more digitally literate than many of their instructors. This is a generation that was born to and came of age online. The Internet and technology, in many cases, appears second nature for most.
Therefore, setting learning outcomes and educational objective must be concomitant with student behavior. We have entered a brave new world of learning where students are increasingly producing creative and intellectual content for the masses. At this point, there is an imperative in education to meet students, our future journalists, where they live – online in cyberspace.
Not only is this important to the current state of higher education in this country, but this directly applies to incoming students. In a study conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life project, more than 57 percent of the teenagers presently using the Internet have created personal content in the form of blogs, podcasts, videologs, and photoblogs.
The study reveals “About 21 million or 87 percent of those ages 12-17 are active on the Internet. “The results highlight that this is a generation comfortable with content-creating technology. Teens are eager to share their thoughts, experiences, and creations with the wider Internet population,” the report concludes.
June 18, 2006 in Ashland, Oregon, blogging, Civil Rights, Copyright, Current Affairs, Dennis Dunleavy, digital cameras, Education, Fair Use , First Amendment, intellectual property, Internet Learning, Journalism, Journalism Southern Oregon University, Media Criticism, mini-digital video, Mobile Journalists, moblogging, new technologies, orphan works, Our Media, Personal Media, Photoblogging, photoblogs, Photojournalism, podcasting, point and shoot cameras, Press Freedom, public domain, public journalism, Social Capital, Southern Oregon University, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Wikipedia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)
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Today, a transformation is taking shape. Within the next 10 years, the demand for photojournalists with experience and knowledge of video, audio, design, writing, along with basic digital camera skills will be the norm, not the exception.
In today’s competitive and changing field, photojournalists must be able to communicate well, edit with deliberation and sophistication, and maintain positive interpersonal relationships in the newsroom and beyond.
How we envision the future of photojournalism depends on whether we are talking about photojournalism as an occupational group with specific sales markets to target, or as an artistic genre and style of visual storytelling.
As an occupation, there is little doubt that the playing field has been leveled by digital technologies. Pictures are not only easier to produce, but with the Internet they are also easier to share. In fact, digital photography, especially the use of camera phones by average unskilled citizen shutterbugs, could be having the same effect the Kodak One camera had on the itinerant portrait photographer business in the early 1890s. The Kodak put a lot of photographers out of business, but it also created an unprecedented potential for future generations of image-makers and image consumers.
From an artistic, stylistic, and aesthetic perspective the future of photojournalism has never looked better. Photojournalism education has found its niche in the academy and produces many outstanding young photographers every year. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, visual storytelling is flourishing on the Internet though the growth of Websites such as Flickr, Zoto, Smugmug, Scrapblog, and Snapfish. Granted, we may not be talking about talent like Cartier-Bresson or W. Eugene Smith on the Internet, but many of the images on these Websites demonstrate strong photojournalistic characteristics. Many of the images are candid, raw, snaps of life that tell stories about the human condition.
Like the best photojournalism, there are people uploading images to Flickr and Snapfish that can make us cry, laugh, or think about the world in new ways.
The future of photojournalism both as an occupation as well as a means of personal expression necessitates a more humanistic and empathic style of visual practice and reportage. While markets for paparazzi pictures will continue to sustain our prurient interests, it is important to remember why people take images in the first place – to fix memories in time.
Photojournalism is an approach to photography that empowers people to record life as it happens, not just as people want it to happen. Consider the demand for photojournalistic style wedding images as evidence that people are weary of cheesecake pictures or Aunt Greta’s fake smile in every shot.
Since the 1980s photojournalism has been at a crossroads. Digital technologies do impinge on the routines, rituals, traditions, and behaviors of photojournalists. Digital technologies do require a variety of skill-sets that could not have been imagined a half-century ago. The photojournalist of the future will understand the ethical responsibilities that come with electronic digital manipulation.
The photojournalist of the future will also know computerized pagination processes, web design, audio and video, and digital workflow systems. In many ways the future of photojournalism, through digital technologies, extends our capacity for seeing and making things seen in new and exciting ways. At the same time, we must be also take into consideration that digital technologies may represent an increased liability for photojournalists – one that continues to wrestle with issues of credibility, truthfulness, and sensitivity in a world hyper-saturated with images.
June 14, 2006 in blogging, camera phones, Current Affairs, Dennis Dunleavy, digital cameras, Documentary Photography, Google, Internet Learning, Journalism, Journalism Southern Oregon University, media consolidation, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Media Manipulation, mini-digital video, Mobile Journalists, moblogging, new technologies, photo digital manipulation, Photoblogging, photoblogs, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism criticism, photojournalism education, Picture Editing, Southern Oregon University, sustainability, teaching, technology, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
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Technological innovation plays a significant role in the history of photography.
Digital cameras, computers, image editing software and telephony all contribute to shaping photographic routines in photojournalism. As part of a much larger trend in society, the use of digital cameras and supporting technologies coincides with a relentless push toward faster, cheaper and greater quantities of information.
Since the 1980s, digital technologies have impinged upon the routines, rituals, traditions, and behaviors of photojournalists. These technologies include electronic digital manipulation, pagination processes, web-based elements, and digital capture and storage. In photojournalism, the digital camera’s capacity for reviewing, editing, deleting, and transmitting images on-the-scene changes the landscape of photographic routines guiding visual practice.
During the past five years, more than 95 percent of all daily newspaper operations have adopted digital cameras as the primary format for image capture, and more than 99 percent use a combination of film and digital cameras. Some studies now suggest that photojournalists are generally more satisfied using digital technology than they were using film (Roehl and Moreno, 2001; Halstead, 2003, Fahmy and Smith, 2003; Seelig, 2004). In fact, many photojournalists perceive the use of the digital camera as a positive influence on routines.
It may be assumed, then, that digital technologies in photojournalism are influencing routines in three ways -- productivity, empowerment and the social interaction between photojournalist and subject.
The digital camera intensifies photojournalism by increasing efficiency, encouraging creativity and experimentation, and redefining the boundaries of autonomy in the relationship between subject and photographer.
Further, technological innovation is bound to the landscape of photographic routines as it coincides with “an increasing capacity to encode a greater amount of information….” as well as a need for “reproducibility, and [yet] another is accessibility – both technical accessibility and economic accessibility” (Coleman, 1998, p. 79).
The shift in photographic routines away from film to digital in photojournalism is now nearly complete, but the transition has taken more than two decades to complete -- beginning with scanning film into computers to create digital files in the 1980s and quickly advancing to the use of the digital camera in the early to mid-1990s.
Reasons for the move away from analog photochemical processes toward full digitalization include, but may not be limited to, the speed in which images are monitored, edited and transmitted on-the-scene has increased; the cost of producing images is cheaper with digital technology when compared to previously experienced film processes; and the quality of digitally produced images continues to increase or surpass film quality. Moreover, environmental regulations played a role. As Bryan Murley observes:
In the mid-90s, there was an attempt by some cities to enforce tighter regulations regarding the disposal of photographic processing chemicals (especially used fixer). The school I was working for at the time went all digital instead messing with the new disposal regulations.
At the same time, use of the digital camera also signifies an increased liability in photojournalism – one that is inextricably bound to the routines of an occupational group concerned about public perceptions, such as credibility, veracity and objectivity.
Understanding the transformation of photojournalism from film to digital requires insight into the social, professional and personal routines contributing to particular behavior and conduct. As Peter Howe (2001) contends, “Technological developments rarely replace what precedes them, though they do force change” (p. 25).
What photojournalists are now learning from their experiences with digital cameras is that technology both constrains and enables certain types of human behavior. Although photojouranlists may feel productive in the quantity of images produced on deadline, they may also feel overwhelmed by demands made on their time. In addition, although photojournalists may feel empowered by the immediacy of reviewing images on the back of the camera, they may also feel constrained by the behavior.
Ultimately, a shift in photojournalistic routines has occurred with the immediacy of digital photography. For some photojournalists the ability to review, edit, delete and transmit images on-the-scene offers more control and autonomy over the creative process. In addition, digital technology is improving the performance of photojournalists in a variety of ways including helping to build better rapport with subjects.
May 17, 2006 in camera phones, Dennis Dunleavy, digital cameras, Internet Learning, Journalism, Journalism Southern Oregon University, mini-digital video, Mobile Journalists, new technologies, photo digital manipulation, Photoblogging, photoblogs, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism education, Picture Editing, point and shoot cameras, Southern Oregon University, teaching, technology, visual journalism education, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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Two years have come and gone since the pictures of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq opened our eyes to what may be one of the most critical and defining moments of this conflict.
The graphic scenes of humiliation and torture that began to appear in April 2004 subvert any claims to a moral victory in Iraq by U.S. and coalition forces. More than 275 images and nearly two-dozen videos made by guards at the prison are now part of our national collective memory of the war.
Reduced to grainy snapshots depicting the horror and deprivation of prisoners of war, a simple truth reveals how capable we are of inflicting injustice on humanity.
The reality recorded here, of course, is not new in the history of so-called civilization, but it does provide “hard” evidence of our ability to do great harm in the name of all that is good about our country.
What these images signify for me may upset many people, but I feel compelled to speak my mind.
Naturally, the actions of a few do not represent the majority. Yet, pictures like those from Abu Ghraib send a strong message to the rest of the world -- a picture that paints a very sobering and despicable characterization of America as the so-called leader of the free world.
The Abu Ghraib images represent far more than the brutality depicted.
These pictures contradict the image we hold about ourselves as a fair-minded and good-hearted people. In a sense, we reject what these images tell the rest of the world about us as a people because we do not believe that we could ever commit such heinous acts.
The pictures signify a mockery of everything we are taught to believe in about our nation. For me, the reality of these images destroys any illusion I may have had about America as peaceful, tolerant, and just nation. These pictures shock me into a realization of how callous and inhumane we can be under the pretext of liberation, democracy and freedom. The shame of these images will haunt future generations of Americans and it is a legacy that I am not prepare to ever get comfortable with.
Has anything changed in the time since the release of the first set of prison abuse pictures?
Has justice been served?
A few people are now in jail and forgotten in the eyes of the media. A few people have been demoted in rank and have returned to obscurity.
Through the lens, a central narrative in this conflict has been dutifully recorded for prosperity -- it’s not a pretty picture.
How can we look at these images of tortured prisoners and see human beings?
One reading of these images is that they are not pictures of people at all. These are pictures of things.
Once pictured, people are reduced to objects of possession and personal property. Those who dare to understand the implications of such images are singed with grief.
Something insidiously evil is at work in the world today and we’ve got pictures to prove it.
These images – a naked truth revealing how human beings are strapped, bloodied, humiliated, and stripped of dignity – signify a larger tragedy in the cultural pathology of a society saturated with visual messages. We may look at these pictures and remain unmoved. We may see them but still be blinded by apathy and what can only be called the propaganda of mass distraction.
Does the insistent bombardment of visually mediated messages depicting suffering and deprivation reduce our capacity to feel?
Sontag observed, “In a modern life – a life in which there is a superfluity of things to which we are invited to pay attention – it seems normal to turn away from images that simply make us feel bad.”
Among the pile of images that emerged from the cameras of prison guards at Abu Ghraib, a few have become emblematic of the human rights scandal.
I would like to discuss the power of one of these images as a social artifact of our times. More importantly, I would like to explore how picture editing plays a significant role in the construction of public perceptions of events.
When the New Yorker, and later CBS’ 60 minutes, brought the images to light in April 2004, a picture showing a prisoner standing on a box in a Christ-like pose, captivated the imagination of millions.
Wires had been attached to the hooded man’s hands, and he was told that if he moved he would be electrocuted. In the picture originally released by the mainstream media, there is an aesthetic balance to the frame. The prisoner is centered against a background of yellowed tile.
The hood, poncho, and outstretched arms of the man provide a sense of symmetry. This geometric composition contributes to the viewer’s reading by directing the eye to the dominant subject. The composition is compelling and appeals to our imagination and emotions.
Sarah Boxer of the New York Times contends, “Of all the photographs of American soldiers tormenting Iraqi prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison, one alone [the hooded man] has become the icon of the abuse.”
Boxer’s analysis of the image suggests the power of photography to evoke deep emotions. Boxer writes:
“As a symbolic shape, the hood is almost as strong as a cross. The difference is that the hood has generally been the sign of the persecutor, not of the victim. It is the uniform of the executioner, the sheet of the Klansman, the mask of Death. Until now. In these images, you can see the hood's meaning begin to change and take root.”
Theorist Barry Brummett observes that audiences expect “the world to be mediated to them dramatically…. because the media do so by calling up standard, recurrent, culturally ingrained types of dramas.”
It is not clear to me that the image of the “hooded man” was cropped intentionally to solicit more immediate reaction and pity from viewers. If the picture was cropped it was probably done more out of routine than overt censorship of other seemingly less important elements in the frame.
This is where the tale of the two images comes into conflict, because it is the extraneous elements cropped from the frame that reveal another reality – one that shows the amateurish competence as well as the indifference of the photographers.
Within the past year, a second uncropped version of the “hooded man” image has surfaced.
In this frame, a guard is show to the far right of the image. The prisoner remains centered but the space on either side of him provides a context that is missing from the cropped version.
According to Salon, the Criminal Investigation Command (CID) caption on the picture states that it was “11:04 p.m. on Nov. 4, 2003 and placed in this position by Spc. Sabrina Harman and Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick II. Both took pictures as a joke. Instructed if moved would be electrocuted. Staff Sgt. Frederick is depicted with a Cyber Shot camera in his hands.”
This caption becomes important when compared to same image released by anti-war groups on the Internet, which suggest that Frederick is clipping his nails.
What are the ethics of cropping an image in a case like the hooded man?
It is important to note that I am assuming the two images come from the same source here. I am only guessing that the first tightly cropped frame is version of the second, more loosely composed image. Nevertheless, my speculation brings up an important issue for students of photojournalism.
Can a crop change the meaning of an image? If so, can the crop be considered to be unethical by contemporary standards and practices?
For Jason Fithian, a senior photojournalism student at San Jose State University, “I totally think cropping out the Sargent changed the whole perception of the image. While it is closely cropped, it gives a sense of isolation, as if nobody is around.
“I think cropping the image does change the integrity of the image and gives the viewer another story. Closely cropping the image can mislead readers and is clearly a violation of ethics.”
Fithian researched some of the National Press Photographers Association and Associated Press guidelines governing photographic manipulation to make a strong case for manipulation.
Fithian suggests that cropping may be considered a form of manipulation since it significantly changes the meaning of the image.
Looking at ethical guidelines, NPPA's ethical policies, number six states, "Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images' content and context. Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects."
One of AP's guidelines state, "Minor adjustments in Photoshop are acceptable. These include cropping, dodging and burning, conversion into grayscale, and normal toning and color adjustments that should be limited to those minimally necessary for clear and accurate reproduction (analogous to the burning and dodging often used in darkroom processing of images) and that restore the authentic nature of the photograph." Again, cropping out the Sargent takes away from the authenticity of the photograph and does not give the audience an accurate portrayal of what is actually occurring.
One could possibly believe wartime censorship is at hand for the elimination of the Sargent While these images are a few years old, it was at a time when there was more support for the war. As more and more people began to find out what is really going on overseas and how the US participates in torture and in violation of UN Human Rights, opinions change.
I believe the public does have a right to know what is going on overseas and to crop out the Sargent in the image is clearly not giving the citizens an accurate portrayal.
May 17, 2006 in America's Army, censorship, Civil Rights, Current Affairs, Dennis Dunleavy, digital cameras, Documentary Photography, Education, Freedom of Information Act FOIA, images of violence, Internet Learning, Iraq, Iraq War, Journalism, Journalism Southern Oregon University, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Media Manipulation, photo digital manipulation, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism education, Picture Editing, point and shoot cameras, Press Freedom, prisoner abuse, propaganda, public domain, Southern Oregon University, Susan Sontag, teaching, technology, visual journalism education, Visual Rhetoric and Metaphor, war photography | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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Nearly two years ago, photographer and critic, Pedro Meyer, wrote about some of the trends affecting professional photojournalism today. Meyer expresses concerns over the future of photojournalism in an age of increasingly immediacy, sensationalism, and amateurism. In writing about the images of prisoner abuse coming out of Abu Ghraib in Iraq, Meyers observes:
If the most emblematic images from this war were photographed by amateurs, if agencies are able to send out people to take photographs who have never taken pictures, but have access to certain places, and if we are into a tidal wave of imagery coming in from all the digital cameras that are flooding the world; I am sure that traditional photojournalism as is being taught today in schools all over the world, better have a second look at reality and be prepared to tell their students that things are no longer how they used to be and therefore need to adjust their expectations.
The same thing might also prove to be of interest to all those active photojournalists today, who are seeing their bread and butter documentary images being displaced by pictures of celebrities and movie stars.
The convergence of several trends makes Meyers' take on the future of photojournalism extremely relevant.
I would summarize some of the trends influencing professional photojournalism today as not only the increase in the availability of amateur images made by shutterbugs, as well as the all-consuming and insatiable appetite of our culture for sensationalistic imagery, but also the insidious decline in the Fourth Estate's interest in and access to making images that have any value beyond the commercial, ideological, and political interests of the powerful in society via government and corporate stakeholders.
But don't go blaming photojournalists for the increasing public distrust in mainstream media or the acquiescence of the longstanding journalistic tradition of social responsibility. There are still extraordinary examples of photojournalism as a tool for social change being done today thanks to the Internet.
However, professional photojournalism as a part of a larger journalistic enterprise faces serious challenges in the future. Media consolidation, corporate downsizing, a continuing trend toward "softer" news, and increased competition from serious amateurs is shaking the foundations of what I believe has always been a pretty noble profession.
To understand the symbiotic relationship between the media, corporate America and the government in relation to photojournalism, it is imperative to step back and look at how the field came into being. Photojournalism, from this perspective, is an extension of an institutionally regulated enterprise – mass media.
Photojournalistic ethics and conventions evolved over time and continue to be constrained by personal, organizational, institutional, and moral rationales.
The rationale professional photojournalists use to justify photographing sensitive topics such as showing dead bodies on 1A of the daily newspaper or on the nightly news, are mitigated by popular tastes as well as profits.
The pathos of entertainment has always been deeply embedded in human behavior. In this age of paparazzi, we are compelled to be entertained first by media, and, if there is time, maybe enlightened a distant second.
People understand the power of the image -- image is everything. Put a camera in front of anyone and his or her behavior will change.
Thinking of photojournalism as some sort of "ideal form" that attempts an objective realism or aspires to capture a moment of truth in today's visual culture is a silly and futile notion.
Yet, there are some that hold on to the nostalgia of photojournalism's golden age -- a time when it was possible to believe what we were seeing. I still cling to this hope, but skepticism and observation is a sobering force.
Predicting what photojournalism, as an occupational group, will look like in fifty years is difficult.
But there are a few things we may portend here. First and foremost, the days of photojournalism as we have known them from the golden years of LIFE magazine are gone.
Although, the still image remains a pervasive force in society today, sound, text and movement increasingly augment it.
There is no question in my mind that photojournalism and other journalistic endeavors are being subsumed by an age of "personal media".
Our mass media world is fragmenting into a world of niche (entertainment and information) archipelagoes. I use the analogy of the archipelago because in a sea of information, camera phones, mini-digital video, videoblogs, photoblogs, mobile journalism, blogging, and other form of instant personal media represent tiny islands of content that may be overlooked one day, and then, discovered in the mainstream another day.
The handwriting is on the wall. Personal media will impact the shape of mass media in the future, but it will also be a part of it.
For Karen Becker, journalism has always been a form of institutionally regulated communication.
Becker notes journalism, "As a product" has "a structured hierarchy for conceiving, collecting, constructing, placing, positioning, and presenting information." In the age of the BLOG, this structured hierarchy is cracking.
Extending Becker's observation to photojournalism, what happens when the profession fails to recognize the decentralizing impact of personal media on the processes of mass media content creation and consumption?
As products of culture, photojournalism helps to determine the extent of an informational and representational system that reinforces a society’s norms, values, and cultural belief systems. The introduction of personal media into a highly structured mass media hierarchy signifies an important shift or turn in our information age.
What we see and what we know are inextricably bound not only by context, but also by our systems of dominant beliefs, values, and norms.
The values and norms that have exerted power of our daily lives, perceived and real are constantly in a state of flux. New technologies are making it possible for more voices to be heard, more faces to be seen through personal media.
Already socially conditioned to a deluge of photojournalistic images, the future of the field is now being dramatically redefined by the potential of personal media and the Web -- for the better or worse.
Finally, getting back to Meyers' concerns about preparing "to tell ... students that things are no longer how they used to be and therefore need to adjust their expectations."
What I know is this:
Educating the next generation media professionals demands an integration of knowledge beyond the specifics of specialized skills training.
Although we may well prepare students for future careers with the appropriate technical knowledge, many students still remain challenged by understanding the social, economic and cultural aspects of what they do.
Over the past decade, in the field of photojournalism, students are finding the entry-level market for their newly acquired skills increasingly difficult to negotiate.
Although venues for display in media seem to expand with the advent of electronic communication, traditional sources of employment such as newspapers appear to be providing fewer opportunities appear available for newcomers. Media mergers, corporate downsizing, and new technologies that help create content cheaper, faster and more efficiently combine to make the job market more a less predictable and more perilous place.
May 05, 2006 in blogging, camera phones, Current Affairs, Dennis Dunleavy, digital cameras, Documentary Photography, Journalism, Journalism Southern Oregon University, Media Criticism, Media Ethics, Media Manipulation, mini-digital video, Mobile Journalists, moblogging, new technologies, photo digital manipulation, Photoblogging, photoblogs, photography, Photojournalism, photojournalism education, Picture Editing, point and shoot cameras, Southern Oregon University, teaching, technology, visual journalism education, Visual Rhetoric and Metaphor, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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