What does modern photography achieve?

Modern photography has a variety of faces. It embraces both Black and White, colour to post production through digital alterations or physical manifestations. As subjects get explored over and again in different ways, the effect of these comments on the world around us can come under question as the photographic 'scene' develops as a collective march of creative minds.

With such radical shifts occuring in photography and photographic trends well underway its no wonder the medium can seem slightly lost or diluted. It was only a matter of time before we knew too much, had too much available to us therefore opening up the medium quite rapidly into a state of flux.

The notion of fame and popularity amongst photographers form power circles of photographers working and making a living from photography. Such a fame builts up a name, a brand, the Martin Parr effect or the Simon Roberts formula resulting in that work dominating new work due to its mass branding and popularity through their aspirational values, at least in their early work. After their prime, they can put out any old shit and people will buy into it. You only need to see Martin Parr's recent commission on Bristol workplaces to know hes a photographer clearly living off his name. Clearly the last good body of work he made was The Last Resort back in 1986. The sad thing is, we will never stand up to the bigger brands for their wings are too big and merely fly over us with an onslaut of fans running behind them.

The inclusion of Martin in the Post cards of America raised eyebrows but was expected. Ultimately, the results were the equivilent of a lazy college student, rushed with no thought what so ever. This type of sloppy work can be tolerated amongst well known photographers, where it would be laughed at from an up and coming.

It is not just the name that seems to result in repetitive photographic trends, the circles amongst photographers breeds obsessions like still life photography, that has bloomed under the umbrella of young whipper snappers from respected institutions around europe.

The future of the image is on everyones lips at the moment and where we go from here has left us all scratching our heads. Although, to find this out, we need to work out what weve achieved so far, what modern photography is currently achieving. Its short comings, unlimited possibilities, how we treat and nurture 'new' and 'unknown' work. With an army of photographic platforms, competitions, magazine and self publishing, success is at the hands of the photographer once again, when prolific photographers of the past would rely on publishing houses for their opportunity to show work to the masses. It is interesting to note, the state of the web presence of the famous photographers, where the internet was not held in such a high regard, to now where a site is your main port of call. With the growing mobile technology, we are rarely far away from the internet, in fact work has never been so accessible.

A result of this spawns internet friendly content, that can be consumed through tumblr feeds, portfolio sites - work that looks as if there is a lot too it, with merely the intention to make the mind dance in visual pleasure. Is this enough? I really am not sure. Although at first it can cure our need to experience photographs on a regular basis, we become accustomed to seeing work that can be swiped or liked, never interrigated. Its meaning has become fruitless, or hides behind mystic clouds, fogging in overwhelming descriptions talking around something never addressing anything. Such an experience I sometimes face when asked to write about a photographers work for a few platforms. I myself am the contradiction in this argument to an extent.

The general consensus appears to be this way, however its affect on the medium and where it leads photography is potentially damaging. What does it achieve but visual pleasure? Is this meaning or achievement widely accepted as an acceptable purpose of photography? And does it need to justify itself?

These thoughts come from inhabiting myself on the internet for sometime, burying my head into the virtual world of photography, and the disatisfaction recieved when we are bombarded with imagery at every moment. But I find it a great way to spend my time, although the images refuse to stick in my mind. It is only a handful of photographers where theyre images hit me like a punch in the face, leaving me thinking about their passions and interests, not purely searching for aesthetic requirements to blend into the photographic landscape. Their aesthetic carries a fascinating passion over a purely aesthetic gain.

Of course we bowl over when we are greeted with beautiful pictures, but its purpose comes into question if its not met up with its counterpart - meaning.


The state of the photograph is currently being reconstructed, with potential growth for the image. With the picture changing physically it seems the only way to evolve is expand the physical nature of the photograph as a Two-dimensional object to take it away from its flat form, adding layers to build a new image. How much of this is going sideways, detracting from the question at hand, when do we head back to dealing with the issue at hand? Is it even an issue? The question being , what does the modern photographer acheieve?
Although we are changing the physical make up of the image, is the purpose of the image changing, or merely the way it appears?

It all remains to be seen at this point, and no doubt the next few years will uncover answers to these perhaps premature questions of the medium.