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Photography and Belief

by Editor Peter Davidson
Published by Yvette Depaepe, the 23rd of May


'Body language' by Lorenzo Grifantini


Following on from co-founder Jacob Jovelou examination of the smartphone camera
[1] Mobile Photography - iPhone 13 Pro vs S22 Ultra vs Pixel 6 Pro (, perhaps the time has come to ask if the time is up for the singular photograph (or image, if you will.

Does the singular image have the same importance it once had?
Do people still stand, discuss and critique and evaluate an image?
Unless it's hanging on a wall, probably not

For the vast majority of photographers, the only way to have your image seen publicly is not on a wall or in a real gallery, but online. By that I mean  Instagram/TikTok/1x etc. Galleries, made of real bricks and mortar are rarified indeed. The great unwashed, the unknown snapper, (they, we, I,) have no other option. And it's here that there is an increasing problem with photography.

The smartphone camera is changing the world and the display of photography is changing everything we used to believe in. Now, thanks to TikTok and Instagram even the photographic format is changing. The new standard image format will become a vertical 9x16 image, even for landscapes. The vast volume of images that cascade onto our screens today is unstoppable and it's changing our world. Everyone is taking pictures all the time everywhere and then sharing it on-line. Instantly.


 9.16 format landscape images

David Levi Strauss examines the consequences of this in his new book.
“Images that appear on the screens of our devices go by in a streaming flow. Individual images are seldom apprehended separately, as a singular trace. Singular, still images operate very differently on the mind. The images in a flow are seldom dwelled on, so their individual effect is limited, creating instead a disproportionately generalized effect.”


This then, has the potential to change how we see and think about photography fundamentally. What we believe in and what we trust is changing radically. This is happening here on this site as well. The tendency even with limited 'curated' images, still allows for a vast number of images to be shown. The 'flow' then takes effect as I, and probably many others as well, scan through without stopping to dwell upon any one image unless it holds our attention for a second longer than normal. Unless constantly guarded against, this closed-loop effect of even curated images can compound  rather than alleviate the problem, giving a disproportionate and unintentional end result by creating a kind of homogenization of creativity.


Whoever the gatekeepers of creativity are, curators are just people. And however much they may guard against their own bias, it's always there. Galleries of course, have no option but to rely on this bias to provide a standard (or style) to which they hold. But with so many images to curate, complacency creeps in (as it always will). This bias/style if too obvious, may become gamed or copied by those competing for exposure, thereby increasing the predictability of form and content as an inevitable consequence. A danger that must be constantly guarded against. This effect is most clearly apparent on platforms like Instagram and others where certain styles are dominating the flow because of the closed-loop feedback. Images that do not conform are ignored. The end result of both forms of image consumption is a general diminishing of photography itself and the form may indeed become (if it hasn't already) irrelevant - as far as the individual image is concerned.
Sadly, we may all have to 'go with the flow'.


Is there an answer?
Well yes, there is. Predictably, the answer as always must come from oneself, from within. The desire to 'compete' must be attenuated and replaced with a greater desire to satisfy - not the platform - but oneself. This is not to say we should not be influenced by our peers, after all we all stand on the shoulders of giants. But however unable we are to stand against the 'flow', we can at least stand aside and try our best not be swept along. The current trend of increasing artifice in photography grows from this desire to stand out from the flow of images. Leading images to become ever more extreme in style, design and process, precisely because to be seen within the flow, they must stand out. 


The thing is, I believe photography, really shouldn't be a game.
But that is only my opinion, many think it is precisely that, as proven by GuruShots which is an online photography game that is hugely popular.
Where then, does photography go from here?
I don't know, but I do know I'm struggling to embrace the new standard vertical 9x16 format.


I'd like to leave you with a link to the photographer, David Eustace. He makes beautiful, thoughtful and contemplative images that don't need to shout. Even when he uses a smartphone. Enjoy.


AND ... Enjoy this short compilation of recent images from different categories out of the 1x gallery ...


'Passed the basket'by Theo Luycx



'Oops!' by Victoria Ivanova



'Naboo Royan Palace' by Javier de la Torre



'Displaying egret' by Cami Marculescu



'Sans titre' by Christopher Méthot



'Walakiri beach' by Sally Widjaja



'Practice' by Kogame



'Showing the corn grains in a market in Benin' by Joxe Inazio Kuesta Garmendia



'In the streets of the Old Town' by Eduards Kapsha



'Tranquility' by Kenneth Zeng



'7462' by Enrique Izquierdo



'Misty spring' by Marcin Orszulak

The entire movement and technical development made photography more accessible to all people and less elite, which I think is a good thing. At the other hand I really don’t like the side effect that nowadays popularity rules the game instead of quality and uniqueness. I accept that we can’t change this game, but it has made me less active with photography on social media platforms, lately and I’m thankful for a gallery like 1x that attempts to stand out from the crowd, even if it doesn’t always satisfy all of my needs. Thanks a lot for this interesting and reflective article. It strengthens my own values.
Thank you Gerda, very true.
Very interesting article, excellent subject for future discussion on this actual topic. Splendid photo collection. Many thanks Peter and Yvette.
Thank you Miro!
Thank you, Miro !
Doing it differently is important!
Peter, Thank you for the article. You've identified the problem and offered a solid solution in the paragraph headed 'Is there an answer?' Circa 1840, painter, Paul Delaroche, saw a photograph for the first time and declared 'From this day, painting is dead'. Painting still lives. I believe Photography will survive the flood of internet images. The cure for 'Photo Fatigue' is to make meaningful images. Photos of what the world means rather than what the world looks like. I believe they will continue to shine through.
Timely and excellent reflection
Thanks Steven, but frankly, I am not so sure photography as we know it, will survive. Big changes ahead in how we create, perceive and how photography can remain relevant.
I had to highlight this paragraph. “Images that appear on the screens of our devices go by in a streaming flow. Individual images are seldom apprehended separately, as a singular trace. Singular, still images operate very differently on the mind. The images in a flow are seldom dwelled on, so their individual effect is limited, creating instead a disproportionately generalized effect.” Very true in a World bombed by imagery discrete selection gives away to a blur of visual inputs. How to manage it?
Many thanks Francisco!
" The desire to 'compete' must be attenuated and replaced with a greater desire to satisfy - not the platform - but oneself ", I have to highlight this statement .. nice article, well done.
Many thanks Yousif.
Very relevant article, yes I also feel we are at crossroads of photography , change is inevitable….beautiful images shared, congratulations to photographers
Thanks Anita, yes, change is always inevitable and is much better than stagnation.
Very interesting article and beautiful selection of images. I believe every passionate photographer has a story to tell and should be searching for his/her own original language to express it. Being inspired by trends or others' work is a positive thing inasmuch as it does not make one a blind follower of what seems popular or successful.
Thanks Ludmila, yes, being inspired by others is always good!
I'm honored you chose me!
Peter, I very much enjoyed your article, it represents a struggle that many of us go through, do I choose my subjects and techniques to be popular (and get "likes") or do I stay true and capture what speaks to, and about, me, my photographic journey, my way, for me (my form of selfie :-). What I think the "new world order" of the photographic social media formats has done though, is offered me options, to see similar scenes in a different way, enhance a few extra skills that I probably wouldn't have otherwise considered or chosen. At the end of the day though, I think many artist will continue to chose to compose for themselves first and foremost. Trends come and go, sadly we have become a disposable world in so any ways, including in photography; true vision, talent and skill however is timeless. Hold fast.
Thank you Kimberley for such a well considered reply, I can but agree!
Thank you very much for the selection! Great article!
Thanks Victoria!
Congratulations to the authors of the superb selected images.
Excellent article, Peter ... A 'thinker' that we cannot ignore. Thanks for your fine contribution to the magazine. Cheers, Yvette
Many thanks Yvette, and for a great selection of images.