28 August 2009

Supersize That

I just read a great essay on the struggles of photojournalism, a field I could happily take a run at, if I were younger and the field itself were not dying. The author makes (or implies) a point that I think is prescient. One of the major changes photojournalists will have to accommodate is the fact that in the future photojournalism is something they will need to do mostly in their own backyard, rather than in far-flung locales. The money to support such travel is fast disappearing. Photographing the familiar is not only, for most of us, less exciting, but also much more challenging. At least if we want to produce striking and creative photos. But that is what we all have to work with.

The author, Ken Jarecke, also posts a longer version of his photo-essay on his portfolio site. Not only are the photos great, but he there allows you to view them full-screen in high resolution. They fill up my 24" monitor very nicely and are dramatically more immersive and striking for it.

As I've said before (with Trey Ratcliff), I think high-resolution, onscreen viewing of photographs is the future of art photography. Likewise, I think the typical tiny online images one is usually stuck with for even the very best current photography is diminishing photography as an art. Onscreen viewing accounts for the vast majority of photo viewing, and no online image 640 pixels wide can stir the soul.

Of course there is an economic dimension to this. Publishers do not put up hi-res images partly because for cost (bandwith), partly because they are merely illustration for articles in most cases, and I'm surely partly due to licensing restrictions. But I'm really speaking here about the prosperity and future of photography as an art form, which which should concern pro photographers especially. But I'm not sure pro photographers, in general, and as much as they are suffering financially, have really embraced the new reality. It's no longer about print or prints. If you want to promote yourself and your work, get it up online. And large.

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