In an age where there has never been so many photographs being taken, totalling 1.1 trillion worldwide in 2016, with every man and his dog carrying a mobile phone with a built in camera, one might argue that this advancement of technology is destroying the art of photography. Is it a result of a narcissistic generation enslaved by the need to place a lens between them and their day to day activities, or is it a revolution, democratising this technology, opening up the art form to whoever will take the challenge?
Instagram is a key part in this shift in behaviour; A free mobile app that has over 500 million users a month opens up a global marketplace of imagery, allowing the individual or company to enhance images and interpret situations however they please, adding a filter to reality. Instagram has certainly become a modern museum of curiosities, with the individual as the curator and exhibitor. Yet in a world of continual advancement, we must progress positively and whilst the traditional art of photography, with lengthy process’s developing and printing may well be dwindling, one might argue that photography has never been more alive.
Accessible photography was born long before the phenomenon of camera phones. In the 1920s Kodak released its small, affordable shutter camera, giving everyone access on the go. Yet, the real development has been the narrative of the image that has been perpetuated by social media such as Instagram. With such readiness and accessibility, it drives competition, raising standards and in turn pushes the art form in many unpredictable directions.
A point that can be cherished, is that whilst pixels are king, and smart phones are continually developing you will never capture a lion hunting their prey 40 metres away in clear definition without an HD camera. Nor will the shutter speed of an iphone capture the water splashing as a bird dives for their supper with such clarity.
The true art of photography will always live on, but its purpose has shifted. It has certainly been diluted, yet we must remember that Instagram filters are a nostalgic reaction to over exposed polaroid photos, and in this world, escapism through the medium of photography can be a welcome refuge. It is important to remember and distinguish the layman with a camera phone, and the photographer composing images from perspectives we could never have fathomed. As an art form, photography will never perish, it is our perception that will continually need adjusting, in order to appreciate its true value in a saturated world.
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