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The Life of a Photograph

A photographer could say that their works are like their children. They have pride in their creations and are overjoyed when their works do well. They could go to school, have a career and legacy too.   When a person first presses the shutter of a camera, what is his or hers intention for taking…

A photographer could say that their works are like their children. They have pride in their creations and are overjoyed when their works do well. They could go to school, have a career and legacy too.

 

When a person first presses the shutter of a camera, what is his or hers intention for taking the photograph? Imagine them standing in a field of poppies, why did they snap their camera the way they did? A macro shot of a single poppy, a landscape photo of the entire field or shot with a black and white filter or film. Every photographer has a view for their image but the context that image is used in can come later.

 

That macro shot of a single poppy could have started its life as a file on a memory card or inside a film camera waiting to be developed. Say, it was a digital photograph, that file would be then stored on a computer and duplicated for back-up. It might then become the one selected during a selection process for its future purpose. It could be altered and cropped and ultimately posted online, made into a print for a photo album, sent to a publisher for a photo book etc. The possibilities with photography are endless much alike our career choices.

 

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Just like us, they are not limited to just one career choice. Life after sitting in a photo book can one day lead to being in a magazine spread or even a gallery wall for an artist’s retrospective. A photo on social media can be revitalised as a supporting image for a news article or on an advertisement for a small company. We see photographs being taken out of their original contexts and reborn again and again, on a t-shirt, on a class presentation, on a billboard, on a pamphlet or even another news article.

 

The life of Guy Bourdin’s iconic photographs for a Charles Jourdan campaign was reborn last November as a collection of gallery images on the walls of London’s arts and cultural centre Somerset House. His photographs of shoes, originally intended for editorial and advertising within magazines were blown up as giant spectacles filling up frames twice the size of their original format in the exhibition. The photographs were never intended for this use, but they got to live that life.

 

A photograph can age or it could surpass time. The sad difference between us and a photograph, is that they can have infinite lives and as it ages, it can still look as good as it did in its prime! Never think a photograph only has one purpose, there are an infinite amount of minds that could see a different use for the same photograph. The life of a photograph can be reborn again and again.

 

Sadly, it can also be reborn without our consent too. Read our article on copyright and appropriation next month.

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