Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A Picture is Worth....

A while back I talked about how the Pulitzers would recognize some online content as a tip of the hat to the New Orleans area papers that lost everything, but still reported. The blogging world was buzzing with how it's unfair that Pulitzers are only offered to print publications and not those that exist entirely online.

In any case, the list came out and, as expected, Hurricane Katrina coverage dominated the prizes. But the prize that has always fascinated me is photojournalism. I've done quite a bit of photography in my life, and a photo that can tell a story is something special. It's a method of storytelling that goes mostly unappreciated, as many people feel that a picture is a picture, they can take them on their cell phones. But a high-quality, well-done photograph can leave you awed.

Look through anyone's framed pictures and you'll see lots of smiling faces, some from different stages in life, but most are posed and taken to record a moment in time. I try to tell a story in my pictures, even if it's about my children playing, dancing or a moment of joy.

Yes, I have my fair share of stagnant, smiling photos, but I strive for that storytelling idea. It's incredibly difficult, and I have a lot of failed shots to prove it.

But when photographers get it right, the results are amazing.


Anonymous said...

Have you checked out http://youtube.com? I wonder if there will ever come a day when video clips will be an "artistic medium" as photos are today. I suppose we should examine the hardware used.

That is, with the advent of digital media and really cheap photo printers, those little "kodak huts" have all but disappeared. I think this has changed the way we compose and consider our objects when it comes to photos.

I look at family photos between 1900 and 1940, and they seem to be the family portrait where everyone is gussied up and looking rather stoically into the lens. When 8mm movies came along, I had a tendency to see much of the same (people just standing around in front of the camera), until somebody probably yelled, "heyman, this is costing me a fortune, somebody run around and DO something!"

Painting and pictures hold a special place for me because they are static moments in time for which I can apply a lot of thought/reflection. Too much data is streaming into the noggin when I look at more than 14 frames/s. I wonder if this will be the same for future generations.

Chuck Tanowitz said...

You bring up some great points.

Yes, I have checked out YouTube.com, and it's a great concept (though, an intellectual property nightmare). I've done quite a bit of video work as well, both professionally and personally.

But I find that photography and videography have their place. The problem with video is that you can't just prop it up in a frame on the side table, and that limits how it's used. Photos can also filter through on your computer screen (see filmloop.com) but only take as much attention as you give them. Videos command 100 percent attention.

It's like black and white film. While digital is great, and I love my digital camera, I still like the look and feel of grainy black and white. You can't duplicate it on digital. Every format will have its place, even if it's a niche.

We can only know how it will work out by watching over time.