Friday, March 18, 2011

Assignment #3 - The issue of girl models - Bill Henson & Vogue

There is undoubtably a growing notion that the artistic worlds are using younger models in their practices and that there is extreme analysis and scrutiny of the aforementioned being practiced as a concerted action. I personally believe that the media and so on are fuelling the fire by placing such scrutiny on these artistic practices, which in turn is going to push the artists to push the boundaries to get a response. Once artists know they can get get a response out of controversy of course they are going to explore it, it gets their work out in the open and talked about. I'm sure there are many people in the world that know the name Bill Henson purely because of the controversy caused by the photographs he has produced.
Of course, like anything in photography, context is the key issue. The intention behind using the models, the context the photos will be viewed and the meaning of the photograph are important to consider before rendering the photos as carnal, malicious or abusive.
Has the photographer chosen these young girls specifically to pose and sexualize for an indecent audience, or have they chosen to use the model for their form and aesthetics to create a meaningful photo? Has the child AND their parents given consent?
Having come from a dance background since I was around 2.5 years old, I've grown up with issues of sexualization and exhibition of the human body through aesthetics, costuming and movements. There are always going to be perverse people in the world, they can walk through the streets and eyeball eight year old kids, watch movies, tv shows, use their imagination. Some people are sexually attracted to animals, does that mean we should stop using images to advertise Zoo's or pet shops? I think it's very important to remember there are at least two sides to every story and everything can be done tastefully, meaningfully and memorably.

I don't really know where I stand on this issue.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Assignment 2

After reading the text excerpt "Ethics and Photojournalism" from the chapter called "Contemporary Issues", the issue of Communication vs Exploitation became very vivid to me.
The author raises issues in the text, stating that when he was looking at his photos he "was not absolutely certain the work truly communicated, rather than exploited". I think this is a very valid point given the topics that photojournalism generally explores in this day and age. As a majority, photojournalists these day explore negative topics that can easily fall into the trap of being exploitative, or appearing exploitative. The context of the photo is important when deliberating the message being conveyed by the photograph too. For example: when taking photos of people in need, is the camera just shot at the subject and then the subject forgotten about, or does the photo result in direct action that wouldn't of been explored unless the photo was taken and displayed.
Photojournalists need to understand that they hold the key to a very powerful medium and that the line between communication and exploitation within photography is very thin.

Prize winning image by Kevin Carter; who was ambushed by questions of why he never helped the girl he was photographing, arguably being exploitative. However I think with this 'exploitation' comes a massive share of communication as well. This image is now viral among the internet and the public alike, and hence has communicated a strong message just by being viewed. A very powerful image.