Competitive Photography and the Presentation of the Self – 9/8

“The same can be said about his predictions about photography—although today we may not even realize that we all are photographers, as taking and sharing images often is seamlessly integrated within work and leisure contexts, and our everyday behavior. We can speak of a certain democratization of the medium—much of the knowledge and skills that earlier were in the hands of professionals, specially trained individuals who also had access to exclusive equipment, now are available to non-professionals. Yet making “good” pictures still requires a certain amount of leisure time and dedication.”

I found this idea to be particularly interesting because in a way we took away jobs from people who are used for their photography, but also in another way, technology opened up an entirely new talent and recognition for even more people. For example, the simple idea of a wedding photographer has become less of a job because there are so many photographers just on Instagram that now you can just ask a photographer via Social Media if they would want to take pictures for you. This idea also reminds me of what a micro celebrity is – someone that is trying to be famous based off of their dedication. I think this is a similar concept to us being non-photographers because we aren’t all looking to be photographers but get noticed for taking good pictures. 

“The majority of Instagram authors capture and share photos that are of interest to the author, her/his friends and family, and perhaps expanded circle of acquaintances, as opposed to complete strangers. These authors are not trying to get tens of thousands of followers, nor do they share only their very best photos. Instead, they use Instagram for documentation and communication with people they know (Fig. 3). They may be happy if their photos get many “likes” and they do not mind getting more people to follow them and comment on their photos—but this is not their primary purpose. And just as with non-competitive family snapshots in the middle of the 20th century, the main value of Instagram’s non-competitive photos is emotional rather than aesthetic”

This part of the article connects with me a lot because this is exactly why I post pictures on Instagram. My sole purpose is to either communicate things that I’ve been up to with my friends and family or to document my life with pictures that I enjoy. I know several of my other friends care too much about their “grid” and whether or not a picture is acceptable to the public eye. I really never understood why it matters what you post as long as you want to. I never put too much thought into my pictures as much as some of my other friends. However, the people that I know care about what other people think about them do everything for likes. There have been instances where people buy food, take pictures, and then don’t even eat the food. There have also been instances where they would post a picture and then delete it because it didn’t get enough like. I wonder how much Instagram effects people’s self confidence?

“By not displaying the author’s face, these photos clearly signal their goal—to show person’s participation in a situation or an experience. By including a part of the body of a person who is in this situation / experience cut by a frame, a photo includes you in the experience. You are not the disembodied eye observing the world from the distance as in Renaissance perspective, but the body that is part of the pictured world. “

While looking through my Instagram feed and trying to distinguish competitive and non-competitive users, I found this statement to be the easiest give away. For celebrities and musicians, I noticed that they often had several pictures of themselves and where they are in the world and what they are doing. For professional Instagram photographers, they often took pictures of other images and other people. What I noticed was the consistency. I saw that the professionals generally had a constant theme whether it be the way they edit their pictures, what they are taking pictures of or who was in their pictures. I realized that I would only unfollow professional photographers when their pictures were no longer recognizable or in touch with my likes.

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