Monday, May 7, 2012

Pretty Pictures

Pretty pictures drive me insane. The internet is awash in pretty pictures. Any idiot can take a pretty picture, the digital age has democratized the process of photography to the extent that huge masses of people can, and do, now take pretty pictures.
A pretty girl.
A pretty flower.
A pretty building.
A pretty tree.
All properly exposed, often well framed, sometimes even well composed with a nice balance of forms. And all, ultimately, about nothing. The world does not require any more pictures of waterfalls, or flowers, or the Eiffel Tower. We can find 1000 identical ones on flickr with a moment of searching. If your photograph does not engage and then enlarge the viewer, you have made a technical exercise or snapshot, but you have not made an image with impact.
I hate pretty pictures, and I hate the love they get on the internet. The phrases "great capture," "beautiful tones" and so on ring like the worst of insults, but they are not meant as such. Taste is dead, everyone wants an image that gives them 2 seconds of eye candy and then fades in to memory.
Hoi polloi treat photographs like hookers, appreciating them more for leaving without a complaint than for their brief presence.

1 comment:

  1. It seems to me that the internet is awash in pretty pictures because the technology to make pretty pictures has democratized. Nowadays you can buy a camera that's computer is technically (but not creatively) the equal of many great photographers. You can practically shoot in the dark, on a moving horse, and get a decent exposure with color that looks beautiful and even the motion blur will look pretty darned cool if the camera's computer decides that that's what you wanted.

    And, because of the death of costly film, your average camera-owner can shoot a thousand frames of their kitten per month and a few of them will look damn good. Because of the death of expensive web hosting and web site design and image galleries - those "pretty pictures" show up by the billion on flickr and whatnot.

    I don't have a problem with this. For one thing, I hardly ever encounter them except on facebook - and I "unwatch" anyone who posts more than one photograph a week unless their work is exceptional. More power to 'em. More cameras in more hands producing more photos doesn't just produce more junk - it produces more beginners that decide to take things to the next level (whatever that is) and try to say something with their photography. And that, in turn, forces the pretentious snobs among us (as an alternative process practitioner I am immediately accusable of being a pretentious snob) to level up our game.

    You see annoying hoi polloi, I see evolution in action.