Note: this article is a republishing of an article I wrote nearly a year ago on Coding the Image. I leave it here for posterity’s sake.

James Campbell tweeted the other day about how social photography (as shared on Instagram, EyeEm and other such mobile photo networks) seems to be defined by the presence (or absence) of positive engagement. Social photography, he argued, disallowed negative critique almost by design, limiting most users’ interactions with works down to a simple ‘like’. …


Note: this article is a republishing of an article I wrote almost two years ago on Coding the Image. I leave it here for posterity’s sake. (Sadly, much of it still applies today.)

I think there’s something fundamentally broken about how we work with mobile photographs today.

Take a look at how a large majority of people might deal with photographs on a smartphone. We capture pictures using the in-built camera app, automatically adding it to an infinite camera roll where every single photo we’ve ever taken on our phone resides. We’ll open each one up (one at a time) in our favourite filter app, play around to our heart’s content, then save them, each save adding a new, slightly different version of the photo to the infinite camera roll. We’ll then open up a collage app (because everyone loves collages these days) and make a three-panel collage of that time with friends at that place that everyone’s been keen to check out. We’ll then post that collage on Instagram, on Facebook, re-posting it on Twitter, sending it to friends via WhatsApp or Snapchat, or perhaps hanging onto it to send later. And we do this every day, for months on end. And there’ll come a time when, half a year later, we’ll want to show that one photo to another friend, and have to scroll through the mountain of blurry failed pictures, processed and unprocessed versions of photos, and perhaps a camera roll that’s been cluttered by the detritus of other apps in the meantime. …


Note: this article is a republishing of an article I wrote two years ago on Coding the Image. I leave it here for posterity’s sake.

If you’ve been anywhere near the internet these past couple of weeks, you’ve probably seen this viral video of a collection of complete strangers kissing each other. Most likely, you found out about it from someone sharing it on their Facebook page, perhaps with a comment about how even in our materialistic, consumerist world, we can still find beauty and genuine emotion in simple moments such as these.

As we all know now, it turned out to be a commercial for a fashion label, and a very well-executed one at that. I think the fact that this particular video went viral speaks volumes about our collective desire for authentic experiences, supposedly untarnished by commercial interests and ulterior motives, and, ironically, the ability for anyone to tap into this desire for their own purposes. …

About

Norman Ma

software dev @ canva, ex-Atlassian | talks photography sometimes

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