The world progresses whether we want it to or not, and that is the same for any artistic mediums. After reading Stephen Mayes article “The Next Revolution in Photography Is Coming” in Time magazine this morning, I think he may be right a photographic revolution. Stephen Mayes a visual communication strategist and the former CEO of VII Photo Agency, secretary of the World Press Photo Competition, and current Director of the Tim Hetherington Trust.
In the Time article he contends that digital photography’s onset in the early 2000s was its “puberty” stage, and that we are now in a transitory age where two-dimensional images will be a thing of the past. He also contends that the future of photography is a dynamic and responsive imagery that uses computational photography to create deeper levels of knowledge and meaning to photographs rather than a just “simple visual record.”
In case you were wondering what computational photography is, it is the combination of digital capture processing techniques and computational photograph to create visuals instead of optics, i.e., digital panoramas, HDR images, and light field cameras. You can read more about it on Wikipedia here.
He believes there will be purists and stalwarts of the current photography model that will resist these changes. A recent example of this would be the World Press Photo competition controversy this year, which caused contestants to be disqualified for manipulating their images too much. Read my article here about the controversy.
He sees the photographic world moving past its puberty stage to a more enriched photographic revolution that represents more than visual documentation of a place, instead it will be enriched way of story telling via a multimedia experience. I think this is true already when you consider how most successful professional photographers have added video to their workloads to diversify their services.
“While the photographic world wrestles with even such basic tools as Photoshop there is no doubt that we’re moving into a space more aligned with Cubism than Modernism. It will not be long before our audiences demand more sophisticated imagery that is dynamic and responsive to change, connected to reality by more than a static two-dimensional rectangle of crude visual data isolated in space and time. We’ll look back at the black-and-white photograph that was the voice of truth for nearly a century, as a simplistic and incomplete source of information about what was happening in the world,” Mayes says in his Time article.
Mayes refers to the cubism movement of Picasso and Braque as being a similar revolution. He said how they were able to deconstruct art from an observation of the world to “using multiple perspectives to depict a deeper understanding.” In the same token, he thinks photography is headed in this same route.
He wants the photography world to embrace this burgeoning “adulthood” happening in photography now, and he urges us not to hold on the past because it will leave us in the dust while others embrace it.
Should we embrace this photographic revolution, and do we even have a choice? The future is happening now, and photography today looks a whole lot different than 10 years ago, so it’ll be interesting to see how photography will really evolve.