What’s Next in Photography?

Posted in Flotsam by LBM on February 25, 2011

Foam Magazine asked Erik Kessels, Thomas Ruff, Fred Richin and a number of others to answer the above question. Read the responses here. This was my answer:

What would be your answer?

14 Responses

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  1. RK said, on February 26, 2011 at 8:39 am

    It’s almost that you are too wise. Not wise like smart, but wise like an ancient prophet that speaks in parables. Thanks.

  2. Frank said, on February 26, 2011 at 9:24 am

    The answer is what it’s always been. The photographer makes photograph that is a visual impression of his/her emotional response to the subject or scene. What we phtographers hope is that enough of the story is in the photograph that will allow the viewer to bring their own biases to the image and complete the story in a “to each his own” way and satisfaction. For me, books are at the top of the pyramid, but that doesn’t mean other mediums aren’t valid and useful, especially if the more transit mediums help and promote the succes of the book.

  3. john gossage said, on February 27, 2011 at 6:44 am

    Or we see the picture because we just flat out love pictures, and we make up the story, and don’t really care if it is true or not. But since we already have the picture, it has to be a bit true doesn’t it?. And we are not just making up stories again because we have at least some kind of proof.

  4. George LeChat said, on February 27, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Stories may be essential to photography, but, if so, how limited it must be in comparison to painting or sculpture, which have no need of stories. I’d prefer to think photography can dispense with them as well. Certainly there are photographs that move us not because they tell some story, but because “we just flat out love pictures” for their own sake.

  5. Mario Pires said, on February 28, 2011 at 4:52 am

    It’s frightening, but at the same time it’s exciting to be active in a time when there are major shifts in culture and nobody really knows what’s going to happen.

  6. HARRY HARDIE said, on February 28, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    John G, Could not have agreed more…. The fact is it does it exist, on whatever level…

  7. Aron said, on March 1, 2011 at 8:03 am

    The reason story is essential to photography is the way we internalize the outside world through abstraction. In a painting no matter how realistic, internally we know someone “drew” but a picture is “captured”. The inner world of the painter is not accessible to us ( it is inferred ) but the inner world of the photographer is thought to be ( just because we could place ourselves at the scene ). That bias in my opinion is at the root what Alec is trying to (re)introduce into photography. A photographer is more than a camera operator, or a pimp between subject and the viewer. A photograph struggles to prove itself as a work drawn from the inner and for now a story is the only way it can find solace with the photographer present. The Ideal Version of the broken manual is successful not just because of the pictures but the presentation and the story.

  8. Diego Saldiva said, on March 2, 2011 at 8:17 am

    I tend to disagree. Mr. Soth, at the end of your story I did not want to see a picture of you boys. I had it already in my mind. This is like the dangerous combination of text (or litterature) with images, it can kill your imagination.

  9. Jesse Sinclair said, on March 2, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    For me, 2010 was the year of the fine art photography book. I really started to amp up my collection of books from my favorite artists, like William Christenberry, Dave Jordano, Alec Soth and more. I have also been checking out dozens of books from the library that I want but can’t afford. It seems like I have half of The University of Iowa library’s photo book collection on my shelf at home. I even made my first photo book this year. Not only is it a medium that I feel I will cherish the rest of my life, I believe it is a medium that myself and many fellow photographers will use to showcase their work for a long, long time. Just like the vinyl, fine art photography books are something people like the physical presence of, and they aren’t going anywhere.

  10. James said, on March 3, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Once again those with talent and vision, and the ability to turn that intangible into reality will continue to rise above all others.
    Now if we could just get 8×10 film and Polaroid back.


  11. Jon moore said, on March 7, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    i believe we are seeing a monumental surge of photographic talent, especially in the area of contemporary art photography. social networking already plays a huge role in this… instantaneous communication, including never a before seen venues for sharing images across boundaries, national, cultural and social. higher education will matter less, life/work experiences more, and hopefully the originality of the idea combined with the quality photo itself will take center stage.

  12. Alison said, on March 12, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Beautiful post. Makes me think of something Zellar said a couple years ago (and that I wrote down):

    “A photo from your own life is, in a sense, a received story, or at least
    a placeholder in a story. But in order to work with it as any kind of
    imaginative prompt, you still have to assume the presence of a mystery
    that you want to unlock.

    The way you can unlock a photograph in terms of writing from it is one
    of the essential frustrations of a photograph: the silence of
    photography, still photography. It’s “still” life, and it’s a silence
    that grows by the year. So your job is to re-create from memory or the
    imagination the sounds of that moment, of that photograph, to
    re-animate it, to re-imagine the sounds of voices, the sounds of
    laughter, and the ambient noise, whether it’s music that’s going on or
    background conversation or dishes being washed in the kitchen. And to
    do that, you have to move into the margins and the peripheries of the
    photograph, the things that are not present, the bigger world that was
    excluded when the shutter snapped.”

  13. Weston said, on May 7, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Throughout history things have tended to come in waves. Such as it was with music, in the 60’s and 70’s it was all about being loose and not being exactly on beat. It was playing live and not being perfect. Then the 80’s came and with technology music became electronic, steady, and with minimal presence of human error. Then in the 90’s it rebooted, and went back to how it was before. The same it happening with photography. With the huge amounts of digital work being produced us humans have grown bored with it and have a nostalgic view, we think it was better in the past. Hence the popularity of holgas and such. We want a more natural form of photography over digital, and once we have obtained it we will want the digital again, because we remember how it use to be and miss it. It’s a cycle.

  14. Frank Armstrong said, on May 8, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Clever, after all the answers, the question is asked again, and the cycle begins again.

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