Collision of photographic eras

Fig. 1. Matthew Thompson, Smashed.

In the collective imagination, every day we are flooded with different and suggestive meanings and values of what we call photography. Through this article I aim, for a moment, to leave out the precise definition elaborated by dictionaries, in order to reflect on the essence of what photography is for me.

Over time, immortalising a fragment of reality has become something strictly personal, linked to visions of our own being. It’s all about being part of something, to be there, exactly where the photograph was taken. To be in a frame.

To be the photograph itself.

Let’s explore this last point.

Photography, first in its analogue version and then in its digital one, has helped and still helps us to translate an instant into a perpetual and impersonal memory for external users.

But, how often do we really succeed in imprinting what the human eye sees and what our mind recognises?

Not often, I would say.

Sometimes, it can be assumed that black and white has been overcome by technological advancement and colours.

But what if we consider it a borderless canvas? How many colours can we imagine among those shades of grey? How many chromatic readings can be attributed to a photogram?

Fig. 2. Matthew Thompson, South.

Fig. 3. Tee Ferguson, New Order.

Let’s think about the introduction of photographic filters, much used on Instagram.

Isn’t it sometimes assumed that a simple snapshot is not enough for a picture to be aesthetically satisfying?

We tend to constantly change the brightness to make a photo more melancholic.

We tend to change the saturation to accentuate the beauty and warmth of a sunset.

We need to crop a photo.

We need to increase contrasts.

We need to stare at ourselves in a photograph many times.

I believe we tend to edit this much in order to enhance the feeling we aim to evoke, to focus on a sun or a moon, to cut details we don’t want others to see. Basically, while editing the photographer leaves a footprint of himself in the picture.

We often try to bring our visions of reality, not into the viewfinder, but onto digital tools.

Fig. 4. Olivia Howitt, Kate Standing At The Footh ills of Andalusia, Spain, 2020.

Fig. 5. Olivia Howitt, Tipi, Huelva, Spain, 2020.

I often ask myself if we always have to bind ourselves to chromatic laws or trends. Is it really always necessary to escape from history, from a lost or found memory, from time, from the certainty of imperfection?

Overwriting files to generate space, losing the past.

We could all go back to the pleasure of waiting for a roll of film to develop, turning off the lights, searching for ourselves in the careful movements of our hands.

We could appreciate the mistake or the spontaneous detail.

We could have more time to amaze ourselves watching acids corrode surfaces to generate our picture.

Is there really a difference between analogue and digital?

Subtle perhaps, but the difference is in the intention. In particular, in the artistic intention.

The boundary then becomes the art.

The yardstick.

The common factor.

The difference between a simple visual impression and a mirror of reflections and emotions.

When you choose to shoot a photograph while setting an analogue camera in a certain way, at that moment, you choose to make art.

Fig. 6. Clement Efe Ogoh, Untitled, from the series EndSarz, 2020.

You cannot immediately check if the light is sufficient or if the subject is blurred, so before pressing the button, you stop to gaze and reflect, you build the image in your head and you wait for the right instant to shoot.

I think it is interesting to discover how two different tools can collide to generate new forms of reality.

The same ones we see every day on screens.

An analogue photograph hardly stays on photographic paper.

It shares the frame recreated by pixels.

Modifying its structure, its intentions, overlapping several frames.

Once again, you transpose your reality onto the photographic paper.

I don't think there is anything more fascinating than giving ourselves time, before and after a shot, to give ourselves the chance to really express what is created in our inner self at the exact moment we "look".

Let others see our worlds, with no difference between past and present.

A collision of worlds always generates new eras.

Let these be positive creations, full of art and our own subjective objectivity.

Fig. 7. Tee Ferguson, Wash your face.

Author, Marta de Feo - Instagram

Photographers featured in this Article

Matthew Thompson - Peronsal Website

Tee Ferguson - Peronsal Website

Olivia Howitt - Peronsal Website

Clement Efe Ogoh - Peronsal Website