This morning I woke up to a discussion point. A photograph of dancing light, refracted through glass to create a rainbow. The capture almost effortless, but accompanying the statement 'look at me being a contemporary photographer!'. What later went onto agreeing that this is the type of work to get in magazines like Foam or other fruitless ventures, it was quietly unanimous the agreement. And although this is a nice picture, there's no doubting it, it would be on level to a serious picture captured with more thought.
The term contemporary has been thrown around and at this point I have no definite answer to what it is. It could be anything, anything new. But in this context, if contemporary is pretty lights then we certainly need a rethink. In fact, if contemporary is colourful fruit and seamless flash then we also need a rethink. If contemporary is work that primarily looks nice then this is the most worrying of all. As long as it fits in the editorial context then we are made.
These things come in waves and like the tides of trends they die and resuscitate each week. But some stick and find it hard to take a hike.
I am a big fan of beautiful lights that appear in the morning, but it usually just goes on my Instagram feed. Any other context is a lot heavier, it requires me to think and consider my ideas, not rely on aesthetic qualities. And through this passing comment on Facebook it highlights an issue within the photographic community. This picture probably would make the front cover of Foam, Hotshoe or any other authority figure. Mixed with a few pretty ladies on pink backgrounds and dozens of fruit, this is all we need in contemporary work of this nature.
Its editorial value will always make it engage us, frankly, because it looks so nice. But there is more to photography than appearances.
Thank you to Catarina Fontoura for the inspiration for the article.