How relationships change in a digital age becomes an important question when so much of our understanding of truth is predicated on the trust we have in the relationships among storyteller, story, and viewer. The notion of “relationship” seems to help explain some of the underlying precepts in photography — immediacy, intensity and intimacy.
At the same time, other relationships emerge as we attempt to make sense of how photography may be changing. A few things that come to mind in terms of relationship include notions of ordinariness, failure and ambiguity.
No matter how photography evolves, it is ultimately about relationships — from the use of technology to interaction with light and subject.
The images we make speak to audiences in differing ways. Our images speak about our relationship to light, space, memory, passion, emotion, reality, the people, places and things we choose to photograph, and the times in which we live. Along with our relationships to these things comes a sense of responsibility that we are capturing what we perceive to be moments of truth — experiences that present to us something meaningful, be they profound or a matter of fact.
When we think of relationship, we may be inclined to limit our understanding to physical relationships, but there is a lot more going on than meets the eye. We need to consider how images can shift from being ordinary to extraordinary. Moreover, digital photography affords us a lot more latitude in terms of failure. The immediacy of the image allows us to experiment and re-make images on the spot.
Garry Winogrand commented late in his career,
The nature of the photographic process — it is about failure. Most everything I do doesn’t quite make it. The failures can be intelligent; nothing ventured nothing gained. Hopefully you’re risking failing every time you make a frame.
Finally, everything we choose to look upon will have some measure of ambiguity. Understanding or at least considering how people will tolerate ambiguity is an essential relationship to consider.