Monday, May 21, 2007

Styles of Facebook Photography

Facebook photography in general is very candid.

It's almost a very pure form of photojournalism. It often sets out to tell a story in a series of images. Facebook albums usually have titles like, "No class," and "Spring Break," but most people I know come up with very clever titles. For example, the newest albums in my Facebook updater are, "Progression to Homelessness," "'Frizzing Camera' and other tales of Santiago," "The South Shall Rise Again," and "The Wifey Came To Visit Me In LA..."

So it appears my friends are facebook prosumers, pointing and shooting their lenses at orgiastic spectacles like drunken parties, or quasi-drunken parties. These albums show almost everyone in extravagant poses: snapshot sexuality, overexposed street sights, and celebrity-style snaparazzi shoots.

In the days when almost everyone has a Canon Powershot, wander around online and you might find a tagged photo of yourself, taken candidly at a dutch angle, and most likely while drunk. My voyeuristic stalker friends on Facebook might tell the story of your evening out in a funny album titled "My Friend Thinks You're Hot". Or they might compile a series of embarrassing pictures from Freshman Year and call it "Why Did She Wear Flip Flops?"

Artistic? If it is done right. Professionals like Henri Cartier-Bresson are considered to be the pioneers of the kind of photography Facebookers do: candid photography. Almost all successful Facebook photographers master the art of catching the moments that they're apart of, simply because they're part of that moment themselves. The photographer does not have to ask for them to move, or turn around, and tuck the chin in. The events and people are captured live. This is something that most photographers, even René Burri, Raeburn Flerlage or Murray Garret, could not do very easily, precisely because they were professionals at it, and their very presence changed the situation.

Since Facebookers usually have simple, lightweight equipment, it doesn't seem to intrusive to simply snap a picture of a friend chugging a Corona, or chasing pigeons. Everything is automatic--the field of depth, the quality, the focus--but it is also automatically unreliable. Great photography can come of it, especially if you are--like most Facebookers--logging every Friday and Saturday evening of your life. But it's because of the sheer accumulation of photos that one can then sift through them and find the interesting sights. Or, usually, people post all of their pictures, and our eyes will pick out the most interesting.

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