I spent part of Wednesday at the World Press Photo exhibition, at Shed 11 in Wellington. Ever since I first saw the WPP exhibition in Amsterdam 14 years ago, I vowed to see this annual exhibition at whatever opportunity I could.
It is a ‘love-hate’ thing I guess. The power of the imagery is incredible. The gut wrenching response to what is often the worst of humanity, is at times difficult. Yet the power of photography is such, you can’t ignore the role of image making in the world we live in.
To anyone who has never seen the exhibition, the experience is extremely worth it. The web link for the annual competition appears below. You can view the winning imagery within the assorted categories by clicking on the respective links.
Of equal interest too, is the debate that usually occurs at this time of year, following the annual NZIPP awards. The usual moans and groans appear about what is photography, and the distain for the level of Photoshop post production. Personally I just don’t get it. It was an debate 5-10 yrs ago, but I don’t see it still in 2010.
Is Avatar not a movie because you cant visit the planet? Is Shrek less enjoyable because it is animated on computer? Again, I just don’t think so. They are just different genres of movie. Not better, not worse. Yet I won’t bag Sci-Fi just because I like comedies for example. I cant help wonder if some photographers could better spend their time embracing technology, rather than fighting what is an envitable trend.
At the end of the day, it is the image in front of you that counts. If it originates through lens in some form, then generally seems to be accepted internationally as being of photographic nature. Whether you like the result, then that is a different question. That to me is more valid, rather than if it is valid medium for expression.
Likewise, whether you get two awards or two hundred, gold or silver….Again I don’t see that it really matters. But awards are a tool in the professional development arsenal of all photographers to help sculpt their craft. As a professional craftsman, the question must surely be how can you become a better photographer? If that involves a computer, then this is just the new darkroom. That is part of the modern photographers toolkit as much as the darkroom once was.
To that end, be it NZIPP or World Press Photo awards. The choice as a photographer remains yours. Whatever your genre, can you produce powerful photos that can evoke a response?
To me, it is about being the best in your trade, and creating the best imagery you can.
PS – If it helps, the gold print below has minimal post production, that has consisted pretty much of colour balance, perspective control, selective dust cloning, in addition to my usual RAW workflow outputs. For those purists, there is hope!!