#Phonar Session 8 – Catching up with Fred Ritchin Reflection.

In a catch up with Fred Ritchin along with Jonathan Worth, Becky Woodall and Oliver Wood, Ritchin spoke of his book After Photography. It considers photography raised on the idea as an imprint of visual reality and the sense we have entered a new era that isn’t generally true. There is so much post production and setting up of images the photograph has progressed to an image. It explores the transition and the directions of the revolution evolution. They also discuss Ritchin’s book Bending The Frame, addressing issues of what is citizen journalism and how can photojournalism and documentary photography expand. We need to use imagery in important ways and with so many important things going on, how are we affecting society? Ritchin leads us to consider whilst there is so much concern for the truth in a photograph, we can read the metadata of an image and see if it has been messed with – does it make the image more truthful? Everyone has the right to control their own image and metadata won’t convince millions of people. They consider the difference of a reactive photographer who waits for a terrible situation and a proactive photographer is preventing and minimising bad things from happening – the beginning of a whole new history. So much more is going to happen using GPS, geotagging, satellite ect creating a more expensive medium. An output can be anything you want to output, something we couldn’t do in the analogue world. Ritchin suggests the idea of only seeing everything through a lens, we can see people but we don’t have all the physical senses – we have screen memories. He also leads us to consider how the photograph and video are now hybrid forms – when we stop a video it becomes a still and a series of stills makes a video. Marshall Mcluin said how we are speeding through life looking through the ‘rear view mirror’, we are doing the old stuff but thinking of photography as an older form. How do we make the paradigm shift into something else? Ritchin encourages us to always formulate the better question rather than looking for the answer. As Ritchin has become dean of the school of International Centre of Photography, he has developed the curriculum and applied these ideas to coursework. Teaching has led him to question himself, how do you educate others?

There were quite a few points which sparked some thoughts for me in this talk. Firstly was the argument that the image could be considered more truthful than the photograph as we are able to see whether metadata has been changed. However despite we can see this, we can also photoshop and manipulate an image in a way we cannot with a physical photograph. Is there more ‘damage’ caused by a photograph can be set up or staged, or an image which has been digitally manipulated. Ritchin spoke of how metadata won’t convince millions of people so do we break this stigma of questioning whether an image is truthful? Will we ever be able to? Leading on from this, it was discussed how an output can be any output you want it to be and we were unable to do this in the analogue world. With the beginning of a whole new digital history, we can expect these new exciting use of various outputs but it lead me to consider will this encourage more proactive photography? If we are able to distribute information in unique, interesting ways which will grab people’s attention, would we be more inclined to create something to prevent bad things from happening? I think this could be a serious positive from this paradigm shift rather than the huge question of the authenticity of photographs.

Another point which stood out me was the reference to the idea of only seeing everything through a lens which leaves us with screen memories. Even with screen memories, we ‘screen’ out the traumatic memories of the past. This made me think back to Sara Davidmann’s talk where she spoke of how family albums are key ways in how family histories are told however we do not tell everything – we only take photos of happy events, not those which are difficult and things deemed unacceptable. Analogue or digital, we still choose to erase the bad memories. In both cases we can see people but we can’t have all the physical senses – we cannot hear, touch, or smell them. Is the lack of the physical sense what makes it easier for us to exclude the bad memories as we do not have that connection with them? Is it any surprise that we exclude these bad memories? Will any digital output be suitable for sharing and exploring those traumatic memories rather than pushing them to the side?

Finally, Ritchin encouraged us to read books to have conversations with the authors and learn from their mind-set. This made me think of the quote from Todd Papaeorge “if you’re not close enough, you’re not reading enough”. It also made me think of the task from Marcus Bleasdale of visualising a paragraph from a book. By being able to fully understand context, it will enhance your ability to produce something brilliant. Putting yourself in the mindset of an author allows you to consider how they think and feel as well as combining that with your own thoughts, making contrasts and similarities to produce an interesting piece of work. If you are confident in understanding the context of your work, this will reflect in your narrative.

The catch up with Fred Ritchin can be viewed here.


~ by victoriasimkissphotography on November 19, 2014.

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