Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

Shoot first, ask questions later

Mar 30, 2012 - Kerim Aytac

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»Dead Man« (Jarmusch, 1995) Final Frame

The HD video capability of most new to newish DSLR’s is turning the hand of many photographers to film-making. It is too tempting to resist. Digital photography allows for the taking of many more pictures anyway, so one might as well film. Indeed, one of the of the new aesthetics on low-budget film-making is the direct result of shooting moving images with photographic lenses, allowing for some very shallow depth of  fields, which re-adjust and re-focus rapidly, and randomly. A happy by-product of the advent of digital technologies for me, as a nutty film lover, is the »grabbing of bits of films« subculture that has emerged through several tumblr sites like »Last Frame«, »Fuck Yeah Last Frame« and »The Movie Title Stills Collection«. It's better having seen the film from which a still has been grabbed (grabbed, as if it's stolen), but the screen-cap can be a beautiful thing. It encapsulates the ways in which an image can communicate a memory, connote an experience and signify a narrative. In this case, the memory is of having watched many images in a sequence.  

»Midnight Cowboy« (Schlesinger, 1969) Title Still

Could this method of creating images not be the new way for photography? 'Stills' have been used before, by conceptual artists in particular, but, as resolution increases exponentially, there might be a future in which the there is no longer any need for a shutter to be pressed, the click of the mouse replacing it in post-production. An image captured (imprisoned) would now be grabbed (stolen). A photographer would find images in the footage he has shot, hoping that said footage will offer up the frames that could stand alone as 'photographs' rather than 'stills'. This is what a photographer already does, in many ways, extracting 'stills' from reality that are as meaningful as those stolen from the films whose experience they serve to recall.  

Lytro Light Field Camera

The new Lytro Light Field Camera, works on a similar idea. To quote the company: 'the first light field camera that allows consumers to instantly capture interactive, living pictures and then focus them AFTER they are taken.” The potential this offers for the consumer/photographer, is the ability to photograph after the fact. Tricky, in the moment decisions can be postponed and deliberated upon in the comfort of one's own home. The act of going out to take pictures can be virtually passive, elevating the tedium of post-production to a creative enterprise. The production length of most Blockbuster films is now taken up by people creating imagery in front of computers, rather than by actors and directors on sets. Post-production photography of the likes offered by the Lytro could also be considered C.G.I.  

Sin City – Green Screen

That 'decisive moment'; the jazz image of the image-maker improvising, jamming, running. This has long ceased to be aspiration of many a fine-art photographer, but its mythic grip still holds, if anything to be railed against. Technology might well be the final nail in its coffin, freeing the photographer to make images and find that moment during or after. What would be lost is the happy accident. What I find most difficult about digital photography is the temptation to check every image the second it’s been taken. The surprises one discovers on processing a roll of film a few days after the images have been taken are, for me, the greatest pleasure. It's as if they belong to someone else whose style you dig. It may not be possible, in the methods outlined above, to be more than pleased with an image carefully pre-meditated, but un-expectedly successful. Ultimately, it's a matter of control. Wherein lies the creativity that defines the artist: before, during or after?