Social photographers

I’m writing this post whilst bobbing up and down on a ferry in the Irish Sea, returning from a trip to Ireland. My wife and I had traveled over with our 6 month old son to catch up with family and friends. Ireland’s beautiful scenery is an ideal place for a photographer to visit, however due to the Tardis-like space needed to transport a 6 month old and his nappies etc, there was not enough room in the car for my DSLR and collection of lenses. Therefore I had to leave my camera at home. Despite this I did have my iPhone with me, so I knew I would be able to take photos and document our trip. Although I wouldn’t be able to take high resolution images at a range of distances, the apps on my iPhone gave me some editing capabilities and the bonus of being able to share my images to social networking sites, such as Instagram, Flickr and Facebook. If I had used my DSLR it could have been weeks before I had uploaded and edited my photos, which would then have been stored on my hard drive. The digital evolution is creating two types of photography: the purposeful documenting of a person, place or event, which the photographer is greatly involved in, determining the exposure, such as altering the aperture of shutter speed; and secondly there is the ‘social photographer’ who invests more thought and time in the output of the image rather than setting it up. Social photographers are keen to distribute their images both quickly and widely on social networking sites to predetermined audiences and also in an attempt to attract a greater following.
Not only is photography an art form it is also a means of communication. It can be both formal and informal. Some photographs can be soulless, used for stock whilst others can be full of energy and life. Whatever the purpose of each photograph there is a desire for all photo takers to own their images and be able to refer to them at their leisure. Unfortunately this security can be uncertain when relying on social networking sites and it is something that ‘social photographers’ need to bare in mind. Hundreds of thousands of photos on Facebook and Instagram are of loved ones and celebrations. Once in a life time moments that can never be replicated. Yet how many of those photos uploaded to web servers have a backed up local copy? If the plug was to be pulled on Facebook or Instagram tomorrow, how many photos would be wiped out? Irretrievably lost. In addition to this the editing process of Instagram leaves you with a lower resolution, square-cropped version of the original image. Whilst social networking offers the advantage of being easy to share, it’s contributors must be mindful that the payoff is low resolution images that exist for as long as their hosting site is live. I must make sure I back my iPhone photos up when I get home!


About Matt

Photography degree student with the Open College of the Arts.
This entry was posted in DPP, Project 1: Workflow, Project 5: The Final Image, Reflections and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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