Should the Moving Image be considered part of Photography? No!

I was going to leave it at that, as it says it all really. But then I thought I should write a little more.

I have been to a number of exhibitions recently, all of them photography exhibitions that featured moving image pieces. I’m not against the moving image as an art form at all, far from it. In an art gallery or other venue/context the moving image can be as wonderful and exciting as any other art form. But should it be included in a photography exhibition? Once again, No!

While there are obvious similarities between the moving image and the still image: the use of a type of camera, the use of light and composition, there are two fundamental and even more obvious differences: one moves, while the other doesn’t. I have immense respect for cinematographers and cinematography, but it simply is not photography.

One of the magical qualities of photography is that it renders the moving world still. A photograph shows us something that the photographer wants us to look at – really look at. Once frozen on the surface of a piece of film or saved to a memory card, that moment is preserved, allowing the viewer to look at it again and again allowing them to explore the details that in the moving image, may otherwise, go unnoticed.

In a world where human activity takes place at an increasingly fast pace, where unthinking and often unblinking consumption of everything is king; where some people can’t stop, sit and think for fifteen minutes at a time, the photograph is literally a pause for thought.

Some people like to cite the currently fashionable term: lens based media to justify the moving images inclusion in photography exhibitions and discourse. Here we see not so much the denial of photography as a unique art form that is prevalent in the wider art world, but more a dilution of photography. Surely the curators, gallerists, academics and critics that largely, through their choices, control the photography world, should respect the essence of photography and in doing so should promote what is so special about it. Instead we are witnessing the devaluation of the photograph and photography to that of just another image produced by just another generic lens-based media.


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