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We are all photographers now !

Hi all…

Over the past few months, i’ve had the privilege of doing work with the curatorial team at Musée de l’Elysée, in Lausanne, Switzerland. They’re putting up a show on amateur photography and the digital age, which is going up in a little over two weeks. The show in itself is a rather complex beast, and there’s an online component that some of you (and your friends, and your family) might like to play with, as well as conferences those who are in the general area might want to attend, most notably one on the 29th of April, where Martin Parr, Fred Ritchin and french historian / critic Andre Gunthert will speak alongside Bill Ewing, who is the director of the museum, Radu Stern, an art historian who was the director of the Vevey school before it got thrashed and who taught at the World Press’s Masterclass two years ago, as well as Luc Debraine, the photography critic for swiss newspaper Le Temps.

The site is up at www.allphotographersnow.ch , Lausanne opening is on February 8th, for those in the area, and the show will last until may 20th, for those of you coming by.

I’ll do my best to answer any questions you might have…

by [a former member] at 2007-01-24 17:25:37 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) Lausanne , Switzerland | Bookmark | | Report spam→

08 Feb 2006 00:02
Matthias, I would like to hear what Fred Ritchin has to say. Hopefully you can put up a transcript of his remarks, I am certain that he will have some insight into this.

My own opinion is that the title is mistaken. It should be “We All Have Cameras Now,” rather than “We Are All Photographers.”

I play piano, I am not a musician. A person will a cell-phone takes pictures, they might be, but are not necessarily photographers. People use pens, they are not awarded the title of writers.

I some cases of tremendous events, like a Katrina, or a Grozny, any picture by any means is usually a meaningful document. But the idea that that makes someone who clicks a cellphone a “photographer” is in my opinion a miss-use of the word that contributes to the situation that we had with Reuters, where of course, the untrained stringers were manipulating images, and possibly setting up pictures as well.

by [former member] | 24 Jan 2007 17:01 | Chocolate City, United States | | Report spam→

we think there’s a shift going on. what we realized while doing the show is that it maybe isn’t as clear-cut as we’d like to think.

No one i spoke to which took part in getting this up is naïve enough to think we’re bringing any answers. But i do think we’re asking a certain number of interesting questions.

We’re hoping to get the conference online in some form, preferably in a way that would allow people to participate from wherever they are.

As an aside, Reutersgate this summer involved a fairly experienced but extremely dishonest stringer, and that dishonesty is not adressed by forcing him to only use a brush size under 20 pixels.

by [former member] | 24 Jan 2007 18:01 (ed. Jan 24 2007) | Lausanne, Switzerland | | Report spam→
And no lasso, verboten.

by [former member] | 24 Jan 2007 18:01 | Chocolate City, United States | | Report spam→
I am using lasso all the time…shit, Reuters will fire me now!
Except, I don’t add or remove anything in my pictures, I don’t even crop them…

by [former member] | 24 Jan 2007 18:01 | home in Brussels, Belgium | | Report spam→
the title thing doesnt bother me as it does Andy, for (generally speaking) i think of the world “photographer” as a descriptive one (one about a trade/occupation/habit even) instead of something more general to connotate ability or passion or accolade. I agree that the ubiquity of the camera now, or rather, the ubiquity of the lens as a means to render explanation/documentation/awareness/exploration/communication is a really interesting shift and has, obviously, consequences to the “profession” and to the conception of what it means to differentiate between images/photographers/aesthetics/news/art, etc. For me, the phenomenon, as an exhibition, is not as intrinsically important or interesting as the more broader question it points toward about we as a species: we is it now that we feel compelled (or has it become a simple flex) to document everything: we are no longer using images as “memory” or documentation or “witness” but in fact our images are replacing our actually memories. For example, many of my students and friends lament, profoundly, when they’re doing something (walk/concert/trip/party/date/conversation/experience) and have forgotten their camera (or if theyr cell phone or pda) because they cant shoot the moment/person/place, etc. In other words, we record, even conversations, now through images. People “process” the world through images, and this often occurs antecendtly: in other words, they think of the image prior to their experience of the moment (just as many photographers do, and as I too often do as a photographer: a strange phenomenon which not enought “photographers” discuss, ‘cause that too has profound implications, especially for PJ’s and Documentarians)…..the camera is now an appendage and is inextricably connective to our sensorial experiences: the “photograph” is no longer a separate object, for we more and more process the world through the static replication of that. more over, the image is not, not ever, real: it is a “manufactured” moment, UNREAL: the photograph is not real life stopped and arrested: it is real-life transformed into something unreal: time does not stop at 1/250 sec and is not cropped into a 6×6 frame, etc…..and yet, increasingly, we’ve lost this distinquishing feature: seems to me this also lay at the heart of what happened in Beirut…..and elsewhere….

for me, the distinquishing features between “pros” and “amateurs” have always been not only nebulous but, for the most part, pretty empty and superficial. For me, a great image is a great image and this is the result always of a strange serendipitous alchemy of collision: the luck of the moment married, often, to the skill/training/awareness of the camera bearer….pros make great significant photos and also amateur’s make great stuff, pros make derivative shit and so do most….

we all are becoming photographers, maybe maybe not, but we all increasingly experience life as somehow hollow without the availability of the photo, camera, etc….it is not about “images” for me because we are a seeing, sensorial creature: fuck, we needed pictures when we were in the caves, when we invented god we carved her/him out of stone and clay, later, painted her/him and still cannot live without visualizing: that’s our innate self: were visual…there are not more images than ever, but there are more cameras and photographs (or facsimilies thereof)….and what does this mean?…..

honestly, the quality of work never changes, everything remains and later disperces and all the rest….what is interesting for me now, as a “photographer” is that I increasingly want my photographs to do exactly the opposite of what photographs do, innately: see, depict, detail, …..i want them to evaporate and disappear, i want them to tell me that i no longer want to see as memory but something else, that memory is one small part of “memory” to begin with……

the switch is profound for “photographers” but more importantly the paradigm switch is profound for us: as ray katzweil predicted, we’re becoming, slowly, driftingly, toward machines….

that we construct memory now instead of constructing things FROM memory is the strange and terrifying and exciting shift….it makes me profoundly sad and i feel the gaping wound and i wonder…..and yet, it is the time i live in and i am no luddite and i accept…this, just as I accept my dying, aging body…

matthias, if those dude’s want to quote me for their project, they can with a small fee ;)))))))))))))))

cheers, bob

by [former member] | 24 Jan 2007 22:01 | Quebec City, Canada | | Report spam→
Bob, a good point about the distinction, or rather lack of distinction, between professional and amateur. Manuel Álvarez Bravo always delighted in referring to himself as a “Sunday photographer.” We shouldn’t get too caught up in labels.

by Barry Milyovsky | 24 Jan 2007 23:01 | Manhattan, United States | | Report spam→
Just to clarify, my idea of what a photographer is, has nothing to do with professional or amateur…..

by [former member] | 25 Jan 2007 00:01 | Chocolate City, United States | | Report spam→
All photographers. Just not necessarily all good photographers.

by Amy de Wit | 25 Jan 2007 00:01 | home in La Paz, Bolivia | | Report spam→

by Imants | 25 Jan 2007 10:01 (ed. May 3 2007) | ok I give up... who am I, Australia | | Report spam→
just an observation! but when people see some of my pictures that they really like, they invariably say . Wow! you must have a great camera!. However when say a Golfer hits a hole in one, I have never heard anyone say Wow! he must have a great golf club.

by John Armstrong-Millar | 25 Jan 2007 10:01 | Pau, France | | Report spam→
I think what really matters more than ever is our personal vision as photographers/individuals. Not if we’re professionals our if we shoot with cell-phones. I don’t care if everyone is called a photographer, although i agree with Andy, i’m not a writer because i can write (not very well), but what really matters to me is that people choose photos because they prefer them to others, not because of their costs. If someone prefers the vision of other photographer instead of mine our if someone had the opportunity to capture a news document so be it. Does it really matter if it was a professional photographer our a guy with a cell-phone? I cannot do anything against it besides developing my vision of the world and being persistent. I think the digital age brougth democracy to photography, and of course more photographers to the market, no doubt.

by [former member] | 25 Jan 2007 11:01 | Lisboa, Portugal | | Report spam→
Just a short note to say we’re working very hard to try to get the conferences and other events related to the show on line. There’s other stuff up in the air, which will get more attention after the opening next week.

by [former member] | 02 Feb 2007 19:02 | Lausanne, Switzerland | | Report spam→
Thanks Matthias, I am interested in the comments of the panelists, please keep us informed.

by [former member] | 03 Feb 2007 18:02 | Chocolate City, United States | | Report spam→
Thanks Matthias sounds good

by Imants | 03 Feb 2007 23:02 | ok I give up... who am I, Australia | | Report spam→
My new term of the week is pro-am photographer. Not sports-related :) Professional-Amateur.


Interesting read – especially last section. Speaks to the changing marketplace in photography and design in this digital flickr world.

by [former member] | 04 Feb 2007 05:02 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
A blog has been set up at http://allphotographers.wordpress.com/ , which should be updated semi-frequently.

by [former member] | 04 Feb 2007 19:02 | Lausanne, Switzerland | | Report spam→
and we’ve got video !

First on line, Bill Ewing, the director of the museum.


by [former member] | 07 Feb 2007 11:02 | Lausanne, Switzerland | | Report spam→

by [former member] | 07 Feb 2007 19:02 | Lisboa, Portugal | | Report spam→
For the francophones, we’ve just put the recording of this afternoon’s discussion with Ayperi Ecer here .

by [former member] | 11 Feb 2007 21:02 | Lausanne, Switzerland | | Report spam→
And here’s an interview of Bill Ewing , for the english speaking crowd.

by [former member] | 19 Feb 2007 16:02 | Lausanne, Switzerland | | Report spam→
i believe the topic and the timing for the discussion is ironic and inevitable at the transition, birth, transformation of any kind of media. when photography was invented, many were contemplating the death of painting. it did not happen. more than that, both went through a significant transformation finding the reason to exist. as much as i’m against any kind of labeling i should agree with andy: not every person taking photographs is in fact a photographer. the reason for it has nothing to do with the quality of photographs, paintings, writings or any of it. there are plenty of people who “on the weekend” produce beautiful bodies of work sometime even superior to the work of so called professionals. and then they often switch to … yoga. on the other hand there are others writers, painters and photographers including myself who do other things for living. does it make them less of the photographers? The point here is whether there is a special set of mind and also a commitment to it. The possession of technical skills like knowledge how to draw or click on the shatter does not guarantee the presence of the purpose. even supposing that the photographs are not real, and are not the representation of the actuality including the ‘documentary work " (i agree with Bob on this), there is a sense of purpose for some people to make them, to commit one’s mind and life to things which are important to them. while for others it is a mere way of maintaining a boredom. which by the way i have nothing against :)

by [former member] | 26 Feb 2007 01:02 | Toronto, Canada | | Report spam→
Here’s a picture of one of my photographs being displayed at the museum…

You can see the original photo at: Angel Hand on Flickr

by Joe B | 28 Feb 2007 22:02 (ed. Feb 28 2007) | Denver, Colorado, United States | | Report spam→
I had 3 of my images displayed I was rather happy, first time my images have been displayed in public!

I should think it will look good on my CV as well ;)

by Paul Caudell | 01 Mar 2007 15:03 | London // Windsor, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
We’ve just put a discussion where Erik Kessels, who, among many other things, publishes the Useful Photography books.

You can listen to it here.

by [former member] | 06 Mar 2007 10:03 (ed. Mar 6 2007) | Lausanne, Switzerland | | Report spam→
(oh, and although it starts off in French, it switches to english after about a minute)

by [former member] | 06 Mar 2007 10:03 | Lausanne, Switzerland | | Report spam→

for the francophones, nous venons de mettre en ligne la discussion d’hier avec Jean-François Leroy , le directeur de Visa pour l’Image.

by [former member] | 12 Mar 2007 11:03 | Lausanne, Switzerland | | Report spam→
All I can say is- Hmmm, Bruno you use a lasso? He,he…

by lisa hogben | 12 Mar 2007 11:03 (ed. Mar 12 2007) | Still Stuck in Bloody Sydney, Australia | | Report spam→
And there’s this really nice piece that talks quite a bit about the show in today’s NYT – you can read it here .

by [former member] | 18 Mar 2007 09:03 | Lausanne, Switzerland | | Report spam→
Pour les francophones, nous venons de mettre en ligne la discussion de cet-après midi , avec Adrien Cater, qui est également un des curateurs de l’exposition, et moi.

by [former member] | 18 Mar 2007 20:03 | Lausanne, Switzerland | | Report spam→
i should have listened to my mom and gone to medical school.

by [former member] | 19 Mar 2007 01:03 | Monrovia, Liberia | | Report spam→
I’m quoted a few times in the article!

by Jonathan Lipkin | 19 Mar 2007 03:03 | Brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
Thanks for all your efforts Matthias

by Imants | 19 Mar 2007 07:03 (ed. Mar 19 2007) | ok I give up... who am I, Australia | | Report spam→
Here’s this afternoon’s chat with MaryAnne Golon . It’s in english, there are a few passages in french though, so you might have to wait a few minutes for ’em to be over at times.

by [former member] | 25 Mar 2007 19:03 (ed. Mar 25 2007) | Lausanne, Switzerland | | Report spam→
As Andy Levin said, we all have cameras now, rather than we all are photographers. But we all had cameras in the 1960’s, but that didn’t make my parents – valuable as their instamatic-shots are to our family – photographers. We’ve been living in a flood of pictures since the mid-20th century, or even earlier.

Thing is, today with the web, MMS messages from cameraphones, photoblogs &c., some of these pictures make their way out in to the world; they leave the private albums and shoeboxes they were once confined to. So, maybe, many are today potential stringers/editors/publishers/writers now.

How this will change the media landscape &c., is hard to tell.

One possible explanation is that it will change things very little. Because good photography will always win in the end, quality – which it is assumed “real photographers” have – will prevail. Most people aren’t very good photographers; hence their pictures will not be used, even though their shoeboxes now are publically visible.

The question of trust occurs somewhere here; whose images will be trusted?

Some quality might even be found this way.

Take a look at the worldwide phenomenon of photoblogs (for example via photoblogs.org, home of 23 000 photoblogs). Most of the photoblogs are of the quite uninteresting, overphotoshopped macro shots of flowers-kind of style. But some of it is good.

Three examples:

Radio uruguay

by Gustav Holmberg | 02 Apr 2007 08:04 (ed. Apr 2 2007) | Lund, Sweden | | Report spam→
i think of myself as a photographer as i spend all of my time looking to take photos, taking photos or tidying up and delivering photos. the definition for me is less of a philosophical and more of a pragmatic one. i have friends who often take better pictures than the people at the local paper, but that does not make them photographers.

to me a photographer is someone who will endeavor to produce the best results with any given subject, backed up by an understanding of constantly evolving theoretical and technical developments. anyone else is just having fun.

what has challenged me about the digital side is that the opportunity to practice is becoming more scarce. i have known graphic designers, writers and even people in marketing departments to pick up their 1st generation digital camera and moonlight with the work passing across their desk rather than pass it on to a professional.

i think there is an ethical problem with this when it is work which would normally have been passed on. the distribution of wealth from smaller design studios up to the city councils is drying up, and every year the collages burst at the seems with students.

i love looking at photos whoever took them, and there is definately a place for the new mass photography being self published online. like many social photographers however, my business works with commercial (mostly food and restaurant based) shoots paying my rent and allowing me the freedom to undertake less well paid work. the work i am passionate about suffers because the commercial bread and butter work is no longer there, and not because there are more real competitors.

i understand why people want to pay off their mortgae earlier and that sometimes a shoot seems easy bucks to someone with a digital camera. what concerns me is if there are photographers in the same position as me, and if their passion is suffering.

in-depth studies over many years, of interesting and niche subjects which have been possible for photographers to scrape by and complete will not i hope become things of the past. they may be challenged by the flood of disjointed, random and inconsequential snaps which i actually enjoy seeing online but i think photographers will find a way.
for me it may be a printing job at a lab, or starting to work with the public, although the thought bores me to tears.

hopefully a path will become clear in time, as photography is a baby and digital has barely been conceived. i think the mass avalability and opportunity for people to explore their world through the instant gratification of photography is a positive one – it has never hurt a society to look at itself. i think there will always also be someone determined enough to follow their own vision and capture profesionally the piece of life they understand the best.

by [former member] | 05 Apr 2007 13:04 | nottingham, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Very interesting conversation and may I just ad some of my thoughts if you don’t mind…

I have to agree a little with every one…

I have to admit that whether I like it or not, I feel a little as one of those who has a camera, knows the ins and outs of the theories of photography but cannot call myself a “photographer”. Maybe because I am not working as one, maybe because I don’t think I can have the same title as those I admire deeply, maybe is a matter of self esteem or all of the above. And unfortunately, I don’t think I ever will be able to call me that. Therefore, I would not either call a “photographer” to others who are not really worth that title. I have a camera, I know how to use it, I take pictures almost every day, I feel them, I am passionate about them but I am still a “photographer wannabe”.

That is why reading Bob’s entry made me feel really good, and really positive. And it made me think that if they want to shoot with a cell phone or use the latest digital camera but still use the “All Automatic” program and call themselves photographers, then who am I to tell them otherwise…

I believe that one of the problem goes back to the time Kodak decided to mass sale the famous Brownie in early 1900s. Everyone had one since then and everyone started thinking that taking a PHOTO yes, with caps was a matter of pressing the shutter, not have the sun facing the camera and keep the fingers crossed until they were developed. This myth was never completely busted and once it was starting to be, digital came along and everyone had the chance to shoot 100 shots and get 10 relatively good ones (the only ones they show, obviously as the “delete” command of the camera tends to be the most used one).

I remember when I started studying it, I ran into a friend and asked me what career had I chosen and when I said photography, his answer was “what do they teach you, to press a button??” (imagine my face, considering that that same day I was coming from hearing from the first time and trying to understand the Zone System…)

Anyway, not sure if this made sense at all, but just thought I’d share it… :)

by Florencia Saluzzo | 05 Apr 2007 19:04 | Dublin, Ireland | | Report spam→
We have just posted the Martin Parr and Fred Ritchin talks to http://allphotographers.wordpress.com .

by [former member] | 02 May 2007 17:05 | Lausanne, Switzerland | | Report spam→

Here’s the sound from the April 29th conference, featuring, in alphabetical order:

Luc Debraine, Journalist, Le Temps, Geneva

William Ewing, Director, Musée de l’Elysée

André Gunthert, Maître de conférence EHESS and editor in chief of Etudes photographiques, Paris

Jonathan Lipkin, Professor of Digital Media, Ramapo College, New Jersey, U.S.A

Martin Parr, Photographer, Great Britain

Fred Ritchin, Professor, NYU, U.S.A

Radu Stern, Head of Educational Programs, Musée de l’Elysée

The speakers spoke in the language they felt the most comfortable in, so Luc Debraine and André Gunthert speak French.

by [former member] | 13 May 2007 16:05 | Lausanne, Switzerland | | Report spam→

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Barry Milyovsky, totally unprofessional Barry Milyovsky
totally unprofessional
(emperor of ice cream )
New York , United States
Amy de Wit, Photographer Amy de Wit
[undisclosed location].
Imants, gecko hunter Imants
gecko hunter
" The Boneyard" , Australia
John Armstrong-Millar, Photographer John Armstrong-Millar
Pau , France
Joe B, Joe B
Denver, Colorado , United States
Paul Caudell, Music Photojournalist Paul Caudell
Music Photojournalist
London // Windsor , United Kingdom ( LHR )
lisa hogben, Visualjournalist! lisa hogben
Sydney , Australia
Jonathan Lipkin, Professor, Photographer Jonathan Lipkin
Professor, Photographer
Brooklyn , United States
Gustav Holmberg, Historian Gustav Holmberg
Lund , Sweden
Florencia Saluzzo, Photographer Florencia Saluzzo
Lisbon , Portugal


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