July 20, 2021

PHO701 | Audiences & Institutions

How has your own practice been shaped, manipulated perhaps, by the makers of the technology you employ and/or the spaces in which you share your work?

As a newborn photographer my practice was very much shaped by an “industry standard” that was created by a couple of the industry leaders which was then sold as training to other photographers. For years I blindly followed the rules of what “good newborn photography” looked like, with props and poses that looked like every other newborn photographers. After many years I became bored with all the props and styling and stripped back my work to a minimalist white background with the focus on babies features rather than all the fuss around them. It became apparent to me that newborn photographers were creating work to impresses other newborn photographers and not actually the parents paying for the portraits. It was quite liberating to step away from the restrictions of flow posing, bowls and baskets.

What institutions do you wish to engage with to further your photography? How / Will your skillset and practice need to develop in order to be accepted within that institution?

I would really like for my work to be accepted within gallery spaces or art/photography magazines. In order to achieve this I would first need to develop a body of work that has some breadth and depth to it which could be exhibited in some way and develop a series of images that have enough merit to be shown in these spaces.

Essential Reading

Notes taken from The social photo: on photography and social media by Nathan Jurgenson, 2019.

P10. To understand social media, we need to understand that vision changes; how we see is historically located and socially situated. We cannot understand photography or social media without stepping back and looking at the deeper impulse that fuels both: the desire for life in its documented form.

Vintage filters – attempt to give more importance and a sense of longevity to the insta snap.

P14. Position the present as a potential future past, creating a nostalgia for the here and now.

Social photograph – visual language – speed can now keep pace with verbal.

Selfie as visual communication.

P19. In a study by David Newer and Guy Freeman selfies are defined as “non-verbal, visual communication that implies one’s thought, intentions, emotions, desires and aesthetics captured by facial expression, body language, and visual art elements. Photography as an image discourse is to acknowledge that is varied and diverse and frequently inarticulate.

Images of experiences rather than objects.

P37. Social media asks us to see the world through the lens of how other people might see it and to identify what they might like.

P41. Turning away from the world and to a gadget for an idealised image, turn away from the real for the glowing.

P50. Social media makes obvious how identity s to some degree performed rather than revealed in uncalculaed bursts of authenticity. Anyone who has put together a profile page might recognise this. The self is a story you tell yourself to connect the person you once were to who you are now, to who you will become.

P51. Photos don’t just depict the self but are a procedure for self-knowledge, a mode of thinking about the self.

P53. The “self” is what you think others see when they see you – not the impossible view into our inner truth but your perception of what others think that wise would be.

Charles Horton Cooley – “I am not wha I think I am, and I am not what you think I am, I am what I think you think I am”.

There is no “self” without other people.

P54. Because social photography is about visibility, it’s no surprise that it’s also deeply gendered and stigmatised. “Narcissistic” “duck face” mocked and condemned, sexist attitudes that sort women into moral hierarchies.

Social Media a place where the self can be regulated with shame and stigma.

P55. Remove agency from the woman and blame the app.

P64. Western society generally uncomfortable admitting who they are might be partly (perhaps mostly) structured or performed. To be a “poser” is an insult.

“Disconnect” – deeper truth

P66. Why have these self-appointed judges emerged?

The disconnectionists have established a new set of taboos as a way to garner distinction at the expense of others.

The degree to which inauthenticity seems a new problem is the degree to which I can sell you an easy solution.

P67. Laura Portwood – Stacer describes it as that old neoliberal responsibilization we see in other areas of “ethical consumption” turning social issues into personal ones with market solutions and fancy packaging (self help books and advice)

Pathologize towards normalisation.

Self expression – self policing

P76. Social control is administered through self control