Photography: When Image Becomes Just An Image

Photography in the 20th and 21st centuries found a way, like consumer products, to be towed by mirrors reflecting back an ideal view of how the industry wants us to perceive it. Move a thumb up and down along pixels of ‘photographs’ within the spectrum of social media and you will undoubtedly be greeted by a superabundance of images that feel like they were constructed within the mind of advanced artificial intelligences, decrypting the desires of humans and aesthetical pleasures later transferred into the agency of droids who then employed what they gleaned very briefly from the gamut of social media.

Although this was anecdotal for how I perceive the photographic industry’s progression within the last 2/3 years, it is not so far-fetched when recollecting the failures of Microsoft’s AI programme turned decommissioned far-right drone. Except, photography’s most awarded are praised by simply mirroring the designer traits of others. Or those that came before them. Much like the drone.

But isn’t that what humans in an age of lessened attention spans have become? Beings who, although observant are uninterested in the spine of detail. A matter of fact clear by red herrings protruding on screens in conveyor belt fashion through apps of so-called inspiration.

Publications of photographs shot in the moment are like stunning luminous green katydids in a place barren of human interaction in an unexotic British countryside. Photographing today involves replicating the pale hues of pastel colours or any other such mimicry that abandons the tone of circumstance. Today’s photography is about the photographer, not photography.

Very few photograph for the moment or for feeling. Today, many photograph for the approval of others by replicating what has come before.

Outside the world of still captures moving image is falling victim to the reward of reconstructing the work of others. A sweeping phenomenon in all walks of media and entertainment. Even the non-related. Are people now more than ever, posting and publishing to be seen rather than contribute? These traits don’t fall to the boundaries of trend or fashion, they come from a need to provide something quickly without acceptable ingredients, forfeiting trial, error in order to be validated without demonstrating care and diligence for space so desperately pined for by the legitimate few who enter photography as a vehicle for change. To alter their place in the world for the better.

Photography and it’s ‘industry’ must adjust to a world in which it’s image becomes message and it’s purpose is no longer about being relevant. The industry, who influence photography, must allow individualism to reign once again so we may appreciate a sigh of relief from banality.

Mohamed Bourouissa – La Republique.

Addendum: In attempting to find a photograph for this article, I approached the Prix Pictet, a trusted outlet of mine for photography, usually steeped in quality. Although it still is, it was difficult to find a photograph by a photographer fitting the bill of this article.

The photographs featured in this article are an inspirational body of work by Mohamed Bourouissa.