Had digital actually changed the world of photography all on its own?
I remember back in 2000 most of my friends and I had compact film cameras (even some APS film!) but one or two had very low resolution digital cams (1 or 2mp) and the way we used them was similar. We would take a few snaps every so often and develop/print them to show to people or blue tack to the wall. This didn’t really change much over the next few years despite most of those cameras being upgraded to better digital P&Ss. Once everyone got digital the number of photos we would take increased hugely due to the reduced cost of each shot but did we really do anything with them? Not really, we still just printed out the odd few to put in an album which could be used as a tool to bore unsuspecting visitors.
But photography has changed massively in the last few years, so if digital wasn’t the catalyst what was? For me and many others it is social networking that really changed photography, probably the first big change in the field since 35mm film became assessable to the masses.
Social networks such as Facebook, Myspace, Flickr etc are now upon us and the whole game has changed. Everybody has a digital camera (or at least a phone camera) and every social event gets recorded, people get tagged in photos and potentially hundreds of people will see the photos, comment on the photos or pass judgement. Photography as a means of recording your life, social photography, has never been so popular or accessible and that is a fantastic thing. If you have never tagged one of your friends in one of your photos online or made a witty remark about an embarrassing snap then give it a go. Its great fun, so much better than the dreaded holiday album being dragged out at a dinner party!
But what about photography for photography’s sake. Taking photos with the aim of getting a pleasing image rather than recording what happened. How has digital combined with social networks changed that?
Flickr and the blog takes the world of photography for art to the next level in the same way that Facebook has for social photography. Before we had these types of site the only way to get your work seen by a lot of people was to be very good and sell prints or exhibit your work. Now anybody can snap away and post online to be seen potentially millions of people. Getting good has also become cheaper and easier, no longer is each press of the shutter costing money but there are also millions upon millions of reference points online with which to compare you effort in order to improve and thousands of sites with details of what to shoot and how to shoot it.
The best thing I ever did to begin improving my photography was to sign up to Flickr and begin showing people my work. A reason for going out to take some shots beyond holiday snaps or family outings. If you haven’t done so I urge you to do the same, you’ll never look back.