A Barometer For Change In Photography And Video

The images surrounding the first African American US President, Barack Obama, will indisputably be an important part of the historical record of our country, and, likely, the world. I believe it’s this new era of photography–both in the creation of images and how they are spread–that has brought us a more interesting, diverse, and never-before-experienced range of images and access to them.

And setting campaign platforms aside, it’s a worthwhile endeavor to examine the images of the new President and their distribution as an example–or indicator–of the breadth of recent changes in photography. Consider the following:

_Street art + news wire.
A great story behind Jim Young’s (Reuters) image as the launch pad from which street artist Shepard Fairey’s iconic poster was created (NPR piece here).

_Old media turned multimedia.
For example, the NY Times used to be print only. Today you get great multimedia pieces about his victory and slick slideshows about Obama’s People.

_Presidential images not only as historical reference, but as fine art.
Photographer, Callie Shell, documented Obama’s road to the White House and has a reported more than 400,000 images of him. A brilliant selection of these are already being exhibited and sold as fine art by Soulcatcher Studio, a photography gallery in Santa Fe that used to focus on the likes of Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bruce Davidson, and Elliott Erwitt.

[Click ‘Continue Reading’ below for some crazy-ass satellite images, video, and predictions after the jump…]

_Obama’s YouTube Channel, Flickr stream, Facebook page, and Twitter.
We’re leaving an era where (for legal reasons) both Bill Clinton and George Bush didn’t send a single email throughout their entire presidencies. And now things have changed so quickly that our Commander in Chief has numerous new media outlets for photos and video on a daily, or sometimes, minute-by-minute basis. [here’s his YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter]

_Unsuspecting images from the sky.

Did you have any idea that satellite images with half-meter resolution were being collected and shared from today’s ceremony? I didn’t either, but if you visit this GeoEye gallery (free, downloadable, sharable, even high res), it will blow your mind like Google street-view (thanks Martin!).

_You’re pictures.
Phone snaps, Mino vids, you name it; and it’s all getting “out there” fast. The above image was one of a barrage of up-to-the-minute iPhone snaps that my wife Kate–left side of the frame–emailed, tweeted, and Facebooked me from the inauguration today.

And the list probably goes on for miles. But remember this list is not about the new President, it’s about you.

Today these new models act to supplement the more traditional models of newswire, newspaper, magazine, and books; but tomorrow they will almost entirely supplant them.

When you consider these changes have happened essentially between the last inauguration and today’s, that’s a huge pile of change in a short amount of time. Sure, at its essence, image making is still the same: the capturing of images from the world around us into some reproducible medium. But in every way besides its essence, it is very different than ever before.

What some photographers see as peril is seen by other photographers as possibility. If you haven’t already, you should decide how you’re going to view this new era of photography.

Viva la change.

23 Responses to A Barometer For Change In Photography And Video

  1. Rob January 20, 2009 at 8:01 pm #

    Let’s not forget about the photosynth.net technology used to create some amazing collages using images from the public.

  2. Gordon January 20, 2009 at 8:01 pm #

    The photosynth view/ of the inauguration space is quite interesting, as is this remote camera view of the swearing in.

  3. Andrew Strain January 20, 2009 at 8:02 pm #

    I got a kick out of the current front page photo on CNN…

    (When it inevitably changes, heres a screen cap):

  4. Anonymous January 20, 2009 at 8:04 pm #

    So true that we can use this election/presidency as a measure for changing photography too. Our industry is moving fast, and I like it.

  5. cfimages January 20, 2009 at 8:14 pm #

    It sure is an exciting time to be in photography. It’s never been more accessible and some of the images, concepts and ideas that people are coming up with are nothing short of amazing.

  6. Chasing Photography January 20, 2009 at 8:38 pm #

    Great commentary on the state of media/photography/content right now. Its in the hands of the consumer pushing its way into mass media. Mass media was late in adapting and its now revolutionary.

    Look at the image of the plane in the Hudson, the most iconic photo is taken with a cellphone camera by a lady peering out the window of a ferry.

    Street photography once art is now going main stream just as graffiti was once considered hateful and only done by thugs, its now art.

    I love it and embrace it.

  7. Shelby White January 20, 2009 at 8:58 pm #

    Shepard Fairey is all over the board now and the arial shot on geoeye is amazing.

    This post reminded me of a panorama by Dave Kugler: http://flickr.com/photos/davegkugler/3213370874/.

  8. jeremywilburn January 20, 2009 at 9:26 pm #

    I was able to get a much better view than virtually any of the millions of people who were in attendance because I was able to stream the entire ceremony right to my computer. Granted I didn’t have that experience, but I got to see the emotions on stage.

    A friend of mine and I decided to start a Flickr group of the images we were able to capture from the day’s events via screen shots. Talk about remote photography. None of the images belong to us, nor are we claiming any of them. And we certainly won’t be able to print any of them, but it was a lot of fun to get to “participate” in the ceremony in the only way we could.

    Art is what we make of it. Part of photography is the experience and more and more that is changing as well.


  9. Eric J. Keller January 20, 2009 at 10:22 pm #

    Thanks for the plug for Soulcatcher Studio Chase! That’s Soulcatcher Studio of Santa Fe…for all your fine art photography needs! ;-)

    And don’t forget, we also represent one of your favs, Camille Seaman.

  10. Zydrius January 21, 2009 at 3:58 am #

    and even tumblr.

  11. JVL January 21, 2009 at 6:30 am #

    I, personally, just can’t wait to see the CNN Photosynth when it’s done. Maybe one of the single most practical applications of this technology to date.

  12. jerseystylephotography January 21, 2009 at 8:44 am #

    It’s a new world order and it’s exciting. Even to have shooters like Chase, Moose, and Joe McNally sharing with rank amatures like me, well, that’s exciting too.

    Great post, Chase

  13. Ben O. January 21, 2009 at 2:54 pm #

    Yep, that photosynth is pretty cool. Interesting times, for sure.

    Ben O.

  14. andywakemanphotography January 22, 2009 at 6:12 am #

    PDN’s photo of the day was from a collection of Obama photos from Scout Tufankjian. Some very powerful images that also boarder on being fine art.


  15. Sarah Rhoads January 23, 2009 at 8:41 am #

    super interesting. You always come up with the greatest things to share with the world Chase. keep it coming. You are a good man who gives more than he takes from this place. Thanks for all you do. Things are def. changing… Change is a beautiful thing to be embraced.

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