351MC #Phonar – Lifeboat Post

This post has been created as a basic reflection on all of the topics we have discussed throughout the eight weeks of the #phonar module. For more in depth analysis on the weekly themes and concepts they relate to, as well as my point of view on the ideas, please see my weekly reflections.



Throughout #phonar, we have discussed a variety of key concepts from a range of different photographic theorists and practitioners. These concepts include specific ideas about photography in the digital age, including the movement of photography through its second paradigm shift, how the single-point perspective has disappeared (and its link to a new ‘species’ of photographers called metaphotographers), and the introduction of hyperphotography (the idea of the non-linear narrative that can link things together, such as different types of media). Other key theories we have looked at include the notions behind narrative and storytelling within photography (and its increased complexity within the digital age), photographic context, the power relationship between the photographer and their subject (including ideas on collaboration and responsibility), how the reading of the image has changed, and finally, creating pieces of work that appeal to different audiences.

Over the eight weeks, we were introduced to eleven different photographic professionals that all discussed at least one of the themes stated above. Fred Ritchin (who is known for his ideas on photography within the digital age) discussed concepts including post-photography, the introduction of metaphotographers and hyperphotography, and how the digital age has affected the complexity of storytelling, the reading of the image, and the affect an image has on the audience (focusing primarily on the death of the controlling, front page image). Stephen Mayes also joined in a discussion with Fred Ritchin, and considered different perspectives on the ideologies he put forward, including the concepts surrounding metaphotographers and hyperphotography. Another practitioner we listened to was David Campbell, and he introduced us to different ideas based on the themes of context, narrative power and responsibility. After this, we were introduced to Wasma Mansour and Dalia Khamissey who both focused on ideas surrounding power, collaboration and representation, before listening to a talk by Sara Davidmann who also discussed power and collaboration. Shahidul Alum was the next practitioner we listened to, who talked about narrative by focusing on the transporting mechanisms of an image. We then went to the Herbert Museum to listen a talk by Niall McDiarmid and Jason Scott Tilley who spent most of the presentation talking about context and it’s relation to their photographic project. Finally, towards the end of the module, we listened to a couple of interviews with Marcus Bleasdale and Aaron Huey who discussed ideas about the collaboration with different artists and appealing to different audiences.

Looking back at all of the concepts discussed within the #phonar module, I soon realized that they all linked in with the ideologies suggested by two ‘main theorists’: Fred Ritchin and David Campbell. Starting with Stephen Mayes, as he was in the same interview and discussed alternative ideas about metaphotographers and hyperphotography, he obviously links in with the theories presented by Fred Ritchin. Moving on to Wasma Mansour and Dalia Khamissey, they discussed very similar ideas about power, collaboration and representation, and this therefore means that they loosely link to the ideas of power and collaboration suggested by Sara Davidmann. These three (Mansour, Khamissey and Davidmann) also link to David Campbell and his ideas on power, as well as Fred Ritchin’s theories on the reading of the image and the affect of the image on different audiences (discussed in more depth in my weekly reflections). As Shahidul Alum discussed the transportation mechanisms of the image, he loosely connects to David Campbell’s ideas on narrative as well as Fred Ritchin’s theories on the increased complexity of storytelling within the digital age (again, see weekly reflections for more in depth analysis). Niall McDiarmid and Jason Scott Tilley link to David Campbell’s ideas on context. Finally, Marcus Bleasdale and Aaron Huey discuss similar ideas which all link in well with Fred Ritchin’s theories surrounding post-photography, hyperphotography, the reading of the image, and affecting/appealing to different audiences. (All of the concepts discussed within #phonar also greatly link with Fred Ritchin’s ideas on the digital age and post-photography as they all look at how these concepts have changed or been affected by the ever-changing digital age).

Being introduced to all of these concepts and perspectives, throughout the course, has affected my understanding of the photographic industry and professional practice in a number of ways. It has increased my awareness of the photographic industry and the changes it is undergoing throughout the digital age, which will help me to understand how to adapt my practice to appeal to the increasing number of digital natives through embracing experimentation with accessible digital technologies. The idea of the new ‘species’ of metaphotographers has also sparked an interest in found imagery, which has lead to my contemplation about using them within future projects. I also feel that I am very lucky to be going through the second paradigm shift within arts history, and feel that I should use this opportunity to broaden my creativity by experimenting with the use of other (digital) mediums as a way of expanding my portfolio. Taking this a step further, I feel that the later theories discussed in #phonar have increased my understanding of the collaboration with different artists as a way of not only broadening my photographic practice, but as a way of appealing to different audiences. In relation to this, the digital age has also provided me with greater resources to create and manipulate different narratives, allowing me to adapt and improve my storytelling capabilities through the use of different digital techniques. Finally, I also think that increasing my understanding about the power relationship between the photographer and the subject will change how I conduct different future projects by making them more collaborative.


So what is the main thing I have taken away from this module? Please see the link to the Storify page where I have collected a couple of tweets that I sent to Shahidul Alum, my main theoretical interest within #phonar.