Article: The Trivialization of Photography New Work in the Recent Work Gallery Latest Introductory Print Specials Magazine Feature: LensWork #121 Suggestions Subscriptions
The Trivialization of Photography
As in the iconic scene from "The Wizard of Oz," the curtain obscuring the secrets of photography has been pulled back. The wizard, the alchemist, the powerful conjurer of images, the artist of light and shadow is shown to be just a man. His old tricks no longer amaze anyone.
ĖPablo Corral Vega
Have you ever run so fast that your feet ran right out from under you? I presumed (rather haughtily) that this had actually happened to me once, as a child. (I was a pretty fast runner.) Of course, soon after planting my face in the ground I realized that I had simply lost focus, thereby tripping over an errant tree stump that had, somehow, managed to wander into my path. Could it be that the medium of photography is currently experiencing a similar comeuppance?
According to buzzfeed.com, the social news and entertainment company with a self-proclaimed global audience of over 200 million: "Humans have taken a lot of pictures." (Thatís a direct quote, by the way.) Under most circumstances I would dismiss this kind of revelation as being suspiciously self-evident. On the other hand, one of the statistics cited on the buzzfeed web site (in a piece titled: How Many Pictures Have Been Taken Ever?) surely caught my attention.
Since the invention of the photographic medium (roughly 189 years ago) it is estimated that a grand total of more than 3.8 trillion pictures have been taken, worldwide. Thatís 3,800,000,000,000! Though it does seem an impressive number, it can be somewhat difficult to comprehend (let alone fully appreciate) any number possessing so many zeros!
There must to be a better way to visualize 3.8 trillion pictures. Letís try this: A stack of 1,000 un-mounted (single-weight) photographic prints measures approximately 10 inches in height. As such, the height of a stack of 1 trillion prints would then measure roughly 157,828 miles! Now, multiply that number by 3.8 and you arrive at an overall distance just shy of 600,000 miles. Youíd have to travel more than twice the distance to the Moon just to be able to see the top print in the stack! (Imagine the poor workshop instructor charged with reviewing that portfolio!)
Much like our national debt, the numbers will only continue to increase with the passage of time. Hopefully, the graph below will help to illustrate the mediumís more recent ascent.
(continued below, please scroll down)
New Work Featured in the Recent Work Gallery
New Work Featured in the Recent Work Gallery
Several new images have just been posted in the Recent Work Gallery.
The new work features photographs made over the past four months. A variety of new landscape images (from a recent Pacific Northwest trip) are included together with some work done during the annual Concours díElegance held on the Monterey Peninsula.
And as always, two of the new images are being offered, for a limited time only, as Introductory Print Specials (IPS). For information about the IPS prints see the Introductory Print Specials in the next section.
To view the recent work simply click the link below:
For a limited time only, 11"x14" prints of the newly introduced pigment ink editions shown below will be available for only $170.00 each. Thatís over 50% below the retail price! And free shipping is included.
What are IPS Prints?
Introductory Print Specials (IPS) feature an ongoing program of selected pigment ink print editions that are offered exclusively through the
HuntingtonWitherill.com web site at 50% below the retail prices. Each IPS print is culled from the regular limited edition, is signed and numbered, and is printed on an over-sized
sheet. IPS prints are not mounted or over-matted. Each loose print is rolled and shipped in a sturdy mailing tube. And the $170.00 price includes free shipping within the USA.
This special offer applies only to the two images currently posted on the Introductory Print Specials page at HuntingtonWitherill.com.
Each IPS offering will be available for a limited time only and there will never be more than two (2) editioned images available as IPS prints at any given time. Each time new work is introduced to the
web site, new IPS offerings will be posted to replace the previous offerings. Once an image has been removed from the Introductory Print Specials page, standard retail prices will be applied to any
remaining prints available in that edition.
For more details about the current IPS offerings, click here.
Magazine Feature:LensWork #121
Announcing: Interview Featured in the Latest Issue of LensWork!
Be sure to pick up a copy of the latest issue of LensWork magazine! The current issue (#121) is featuring an interview with David Grant Best, Harold Ross, and Huntington Witherill, titled: The Creative Process. Conducted by LensWork Editor: Brooks Jensen, the transcribed interview covers a range of topics related to photography and the creative process.
I am particularly delighted and honored to have been included in this interview which contains numerous insights from both David and Harold... two of my favorite photographers! And as an added bonus, this same issue includes a portfolio of photographs by Harold which, in my opinion, constitute some of the best color work being done, today.
If you are interested in obtaining copies of the current issue of LensWork Magazine (No. 121) or perhaps even starting or renewing a subscription, the printed version can be purchased directly through their comprehensive website, here: LensWork.com or, find your nearest retail outlet, here: LensWork Retail Outlets
The Trivialization of Photography (continued from above)
The Trivialization of Photography (continued from above)
Iím left to wonderÖ At what point will the number of pictures being taken become so overwhelming that the medium, itself, will then be summarily dismissed as having become trivialized to the point of rendering itself all but completely meaningless?
Of course, the trivialization of photography is already upon us. Look closely at the graph and youíll note the mediumís precipitous rise in popularity began to skyrocket immediately after the year 2000. Wasnít that right around the time that the digital approach first entered the mainstream? Photography has been running so fast that it now appears to have run right out from under itself in much the same way I thought I had, as a child. And to stick with the analogy, here, the tree stump over which the medium has inadvertently stumbled looks remarkably similar to an iPhone! (Surely, that must be the "smoking gun".)
Edward Weston keenly observed that photography is the most democratic of art forms. I wonder if he could ever have imagined just how democratic the medium would eventually become? Has the magic now disappeared from photography, altogether? If one buys into an abundance of current ruminations, the medium, itself, is now collapsing under the sheer weight of its own pervasiveness.
Could it be that the act of taking pictures has evolved to become a hard-wired part of our DNA? Has the act of taking a picture become an instinctual one, much like our basic instincts to walk and talk? Or, has photography now become such a routine and trivial pursuit that identifying oneself as a "professional" photographer amounts to nothing more than a non sequitur? Suffice it to say, if you are a working photographer, the trivialization of your chosen profession might well be a matter of some concern to you.
I have to ask myself: Why in the world would I continue to expend so much time and energy performing an act of such triviality? Havenít I got more important things to do with my time? I tend to think that I do not Ė despite the possibility that my thinking might now be considered archaic.
For me, photography has always been more about the day-to-day process of living my life as a photographer Ė more so than it has been about the results and realities of actually being a photographer. As such, itís about the exercise of the process, rather than being about the results of the process.
For the better part of my life, photography has allowed me to continually learn more and more about myself, and more about the world in which I live. Certainly, it has taught me more of lifeís lessons than any other pursuit Iíve engaged. Ironically, given my decidedly myopic eyesight, photography has also allowed me to better utilize acts of visualization, thereby allowing me to more keenly observe, reflect upon Ė and ultimately connect with Ė the essence of that which goes on around me. In short, my life has become more personally satisfying, meaningful, instructive, and fulfilling as a result of having spent so much time observing the world through the eye of a camera. Why would I ever want to give up such a trivial pursuit?
A commitment to pursue the path of an artist can indeed provide the ride of a lifetime. Yet, regardless of oneís chosen medium Ė and despite any technological breakthroughs specific to the mechanics of photography Ė the true path to artistic accomplishment remains one that can only be negotiated through a lifetime of commitment. It doesnít really matter how far youíd have to travel in order to see that top print in the stack, artistic pursuits are not about the destination. They are about the journey. By focusing on the day-to-day exercise of what remains a life-long pursuit, and paying less attention to the results of that pursuit, one is able to rest assured that whatever transformations their chosen medium might ultimately experience Ė those changes will do nothing to alter the basic tenants of an ongoing quest that has little (if anything) to do with the mechanics of the pursuit, itself.
You might ask: What about all those photographs? Well, Iíve always considered the results of my own photographic explorations (the actual photographs produced along the way) to be the equivalent of a writerís journal. With each successive photograph Iím able to figuratively add a new entry in my journal. And I can always refer back to those carefully recorded visual notes in order to remind myself of what it is that Iíve learned (or perhaps even forgotten) along the way. And of course, if Iím really lucky, Iím occasionally afforded opportunities to share my journal with others.
When I think about it, my own relationship to photography is not all that different than it is for most of the rest of humanity. Could it be that photography has now become the hard-wired instinct that provides those vital visual clues we all need in order to make better sense of our lives? If such were to be the case, that would be anything but trivial.
To download a PDF version of the above essayĖClick Here
[Note- A condensed version of the above article first appeared in issue #119 of LensWork magazine, July-August, 2015.]
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