The work this week has dramatically changed the way I look at my own practice of photography. Collaborative work in P&P opened my eyes but now I see so much more. What I previously thought was an act by me alone I can now see as a collaborative and participative act both as the producer, with others, of work and where and how it goes out to the viewer out there.
To capture this insight I am going to take the dominant ideologies of photographic authorship as stated in Photography and Collaboration (Palmer. 20) and apply them to an image I have produced. I say ‘I’ but we will see I now have a different perspective on what that means. The ‘seven dominant ideologies of photographic authorship: nature, law, subjectivity, worker, medium, cultural codes and software.’
This image was a collaborative act in that Amanda put the sunglasses on me, told me to stand against this wall, took my camera and she took the shot. After this week I see so much more. The camera manufacturer plays a role in this image. In this case Canon has provided one eyepiece, one lens and a sensor to capture the image. Without these there would be no image. The medium makes a significant contribution to the resulting image.
Amanda is a Leica owner with a fixed lens. Although the lens on my camera was 24-105mm Amanda did not use the zoom but instead walked forwards or backwards to change what was in the frame. This in itself shows how different manufacturers can influence how we take an image. This image has legal status as it is copyright protected for me to own it. Over the years this has involved much case law to determine who owns what. Lawyers and Government officials have therefore contributed to this image and what can be done with it.
Nature clearly plays a role. The image is lit by a combination of natural light coming in to the shop but also by electric lighting provided by the shop. In turn this has been produced by others in power stations and distributed to the shop to make it possible to make this image.
Movie producers acknowledge costume designers and wardrobe providers. In this image I borrowed the sunglasses for the shot and must pay credit to the contribution of the clothes manufacturers and the Omega watchmaking company.
Culturally it was acceptable in this shop for me to freely use their sunglasses and wall to make this shot. In other cultures this may not have been possible.
Software is a massive player in this image. There is first of all the software in the camera manipulating pixels through algorithms written by Canon and their collaborators. Translating this ‘original’ image in to a ‘final’ form happens via Photoshop and Lightroom. I understand there is no real original now and that there will never be a final form.
Other ideas that have landed this week are learning with others, helping others and crowdsourcing. It is a lot to take in in a week and the zine production process as an activity is proving fascinating. As I assimilate this in to my practice it raises questions as to what I can do to bring others in to my work to make it more meaningful now that I realise any piece of photographic work is the result of an immense amount of collaboration. This fits with the idea that there is no such thing as ‘I’ and I understand now there is nothing I can do alone in photography.
Palmer, D. Photography and Collaboration. 2017. Bloomsbury. p22.
TOOLS FOR SHARING: WENDY EWALD IN CONVERSATION WITH ANTHONY LUVERA. Photoworks Annual; 2013, Issue 20, p48-59,
Bishop, C. Artificial hells: participatory art and the politics of spectatorship. 2012. Verso. London.
Azoulay, A. Photography Consists of Collaboration: Susan Meiselas, Wendy Ewald, and Ariella Azoulay in Camera Obscura. 2016. Vol 31p 187-201.