The Challenges of Global Photography

Week 1

We were invited to coment on the challenges of global photography having written about them and discussed our thoughts in webinars. Three questions were posed to stimulate and hone our responses. My answers were as follows:

9 Jun 2017 9 Jun at 15:22
  • How do photography’s close ties with global corporations and institutions affect the kinds of images that are seen and/or how they are made? Images for such organisations are for a defined purpose, often to highlight something for awareness and vigilance (e.g. disease, war zones and travel plans) or for money (to sell products and services) or a combination of both. The ultimate presentation of the image is planned and may be constructed to achieve its purpose.
  • Do you think the global nature of photography diversifies the kind of photography that is seen, or homogenises it? I think both. On the one hand promoting for whatever purpose is an activity that naturally seeks new ways of capturing our attention to out do competitors and gain commercial advantage. On the other hand I think there is a huge amount of homogenisation which, although there is some transference both ways -local/global- of types of image and display, is largely biased towards the developed/western countries ways of seeing things.
  • Do you think there is indeed such a concept of ‘universalism’, given the diversity of cultures? How does photography ‘impose’ such ideas? This question kind of overlaps with the previous one. At the same time it differs. For example when travelling in India a while ago (mid 80s) I was struck by Kellogs and Cadbury packaging. The colours and images had some similarity but the tastes of the products was different. When I enquired further about these and other things I have subsequently noted while travelling I was informed that recipes can differ to cater for different tastes in different cultures! So they seem to be examples of local wrapped up in global to increase appeal and sales!

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