The photo, the history, the blind and the seer, the future of a dying art
By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu
It is almost as if photographs are something psychological. If you look at your photos as if they are a way of looking backwards and the good photos are the good life or the good psychology in terms of how one feels about their own life. Artists generally have better photos. An artist may look for a nice back drop, frame the photo through the viewer, look at the subject’s eyes, mouth and expression, wait for the face to relax, adjust lighting and capture a nice photo, memory or history. An artist may guide the subject to achieve their best look. An artist may set up a scene or set for their photo or use props, costumes and back drops as key elements. Some photographers may want air brushed make up or a make- up artist or a clean hair free photo or even plastic surgery or a hair stylist or fashion stylists as is commonly done with head shots for actors. Some subjects may want their photo heavily cleaned up with software to make corrections to defects or flaws. Some may want to oil up their body or wax and there are ways to achieve a more perfected and cleaner image. Some may photograph only perfected humans that blank slated etc. Sometimes one achieves a better photo wanting something for their subject.
Some people are present and looking and achieving their photo and some are just snapping. Some have roaming eyes and some don’t. In photography there are “seers,” who look in and around the photo.
Sometimes photos and film for that matter are just “the way it was.” You can take a photo or make a film and weave together a true and false or representational history. I think old actors and politicians were especially skilled at crafting history and setting up a scene or leading one to believe they were doing this or that or at the helm of a movement. Where the context may have existed in reality the dissemination may have been fictional, a false staged march or a false staged protest when in fact they were not they key players in those movements but their ideas or art works or films became the remnants left over and ultimately all that we were left with. Some people are aware of this power of media and utilize it. Some things appear to be historical and in fact are films. Watch out for branded historical figures and when money changes hands in terms of products and the suffering persists.
Photography may in fact be a dying art. All the photo labs disappeared, all the manual cameras disappeared and so did the art of photography disappear with the advent of smart phones and selfies etc. It’s difficult to find labs or equipment and all the dots that connect the field of photography. Most things are hinged on B&H in New York where you can still send vintage films or buy a variety of electronics for the field and variety of cameras. You can find at B&H little devices that hook on to a phone to record an interview that a reporter might use for example. The majority of all photographers in the U.S. must acquire equipment from B& H in Manhattan New York.
The average person lacks skills to represent their family history and needs a 10 minute shooting lesson from a professional to take a decent photo. You can now end up without a history or with exclusively selfies and nothing more or even with bad memories from bad photos.
There’s a photo lab in London that makes really nice prints where you “order” matte or glossy or with borders and can get classic sepia effects or produce black and white photos. What is really needed are the connections of all those dots where you have archival papers, beveled edges, borders, corners, tints, sepias, C-Prints, heavy weight paper-things that some states do not have at all. If you were to make a strip of these connected businesses and wished for a high level history or quality or art work or to develop your arts and crafts you might include labs, printing presses, photo studios, advanced schools like NYC Film School or Kodak, lighting equipment like flood lights etc., photographer services, things for shooting on location, and even a camera shop, retouching skills and lots of software.
And you might let it all disappear and with it quality of life and history. Things have changed dramatically since the 70’s with photo albums and automatic cameras which were followed by disposable cameras and later ”no camera,” no film, no negative, no lab-no history, no art. Younger generations probably barely realize things existed.
It is possible to set up little art businesses with photography and there is a spectrum of businesses that can be started with commercial viability including vintage photo studios, magazines, real estate photography, school photos, photo walls, sets or professional photo studios, photo labs and on and on.
Back to “the way it is,” in the end the writers, artists, manufacturers and the photographers and filmmakers “make history.” The way it is documented ends up being the way it was. Perhaps even the collectors make history, the hoarders, those desirous of making for example a “historical location,” or even a historical memory make history.
Some of the best photos utilize dramatic lighting or sets like theatrical photos that include really good advanced styling or a really good set and lighting, even theatrical spot lighting. Sets and costumes make for some of the best photos.
The ride to take in photography and probably when you become a viable and good photographer is when you have your software. One must acquire or develop software these days to establish a business or even to be a good or competitive photographer. What does a start- up need-software!