Thursday, June 18, 2009

Style of a photographer (Reflection paper)

According to Barbara Rosenblum, the sociological study of style can contribute a lot to people’s understanding of material culture and its relationship to social processes (p.436). She tried to sketch out some possibilities for sociological approach to the analysis of styles. I agree with her implication that the greater the rationalization of the work process, the bigger homogeneous the style and less its capacity to absorb variation. To imply that, she described three kinds of photographers based on field observation: news, advertising and fine art photographers.

Styles of photographers differ from each other depending what kind of job they do. It is because of different technology, clients and gatekeepers for certain work. I think, photographers always change their style when they change their work. I can take one clear example. Jose Azel, the president of Aurora & Quanta Productions started his career in the Miami Herald as an assistant of a photographer. “Getting started, newspaper is a great thing”, he said at the meeting with students of the Missouri School of Journalism. He gained basic experience of photographer while he was working in this newspaper. His style of work the same as described Barbara Rosenblum in her study report. Then he published his photos in 17 magazines where he could initiate own stories and take assignments from editors as well. He did 10 stories for the National Geographic magazine. More than seven years ago, he became a co-founder of Aurora & Quanta Productions that specializes in photography and digital technology.

In Jose Azel’s case, several factors influenced changing many times his job and style as well. As a newspaper reporter he took picture and wrote stories. While he became experienced one, he was seeking greater control over his work than the mass media allowed. (That is Weinberg’s point. Schwartz, p.25). So he joined magazines. He liked his work in a field for 6-12 months and budgetary assignments from the National Geographic. But this kind of freedom can finish one day. He told the students that they should be critical about their work. He advised them also be ready to hear from editors “We have no assignments for you. We know you are great.” Those words mean, it is a time for you to find another way of security. It tells us that photographer’s work and style very much depend on gatekeepers.

After he left the National Geographic, he freelanced. But, here came another problem. Freelancer expenses rose every year. Magazines did not take every pictures he took saying they were too American or some other reasons. And he tried to explore an experimental way to new media. He thinks the Internet is using communication channels to deliver, but not new media. However, it’s more profitable since basic level of photographers work is to maximize their income. They can get $50 for one photo for the Internet. So, technology and financial concern changed his style last time.

According to Jose Azel, one thing connects all styles of photographers. Photographers emotionalize things people do not see.


January, 2001

1 comment:

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