Future Look? Photography Super Databases
As usual, I start doing one thing; end up doing another -
This video, directed by photographer Anton Corbijn – reminds me of the legend of King Cnut.
Cnut was surrounded by people who were always praising him. Every time he walked into a room, the flattery began.
He showed them that no King could stop the tide -
“O king,” they cried, “there never has been anyone as mighty as you, and there never be anyone so great, ever again!“
“And you say all things obey me?“ Cnut asked.
“Absolutely!” they said. “The world bows before you, and gives you honour.“
To prove the point, Cnut asked for a chair and sat on the seashore,
“How dare you!” Canute shouted. “Ocean, turn back now! I have ordered you to retreat before me, and now you must obey! Go back!“
Guess the rest. In response to an interesting thread on Twitter regarding ugly ‘watermarks’ on website images; I had to ask myself how relevant are they? In today’s digital age, I just don’t think it protects the income of any working photographer. As was mentioned, it has some value in the attempt to control context – only up to to a point. In the end, the editor/general public will usually decide how to interpret your work. Only the David Baileys of the world can pick and choose i.e.. afford to say NO. Ethically, if you’re a photographer with staunch socialist values – would/could you turn down a big Starbucks commission/ Prix Pictet money -
The old models are dead.
Usually photographs are put on the net for PR/dissemination ‘Photographers are now brands’ / a business man! – they want to be seen/noticed by editors/art directors. How it is. Nothing wrong with it, but we do have to accept that this includes a new world of memes, viral video; pinterest boards, tumblrs and blogs. Hard fact, I don’t like it, but I can see the waves ahead.
I will leave you with the future. I’m certainly no techno-geek but I discovered ‘Google Goggles‘ this last week on my iPhone – Google Search App. You take a picture and it will scan and locate tags on the internet for your photograph. Hyper-photography.
Hyperphotography is a “paradigm shift into another medium, or more precisely into an interactive, networked multimedia, which distances itself from conventional photography.” Fred Ritchin
What are the biggest databases of images in the world – Getty/Corbis – Flickr which has a user-monetising deal with Getty. Instagram, has billions of images. Facebook which bought Instagram.. (they’re not stupid) has billions of images.
This is the age of 24/7 news, syndication/aggregation sites (Huffington Post). Less people pay for news. Celebrity culture – advertising and brand value does. Standards slip. Quality issues aside, what do picture editors need for the most part; cheapest pictures that do the job.
The technology is already here – the structure of the semantic web means apps like Goggle will become increasingly accurate (thanks to us). Just like character recognition technology ReCAPTCHA is translating old books.
Eventually, I can envision image recognition from Google being used to auto-tag flickr/facebook/instagram images – every single one. Will people agree to relaxed access to photographs / loss of image rights – perhaps if the millions of instagrammers are offered recompense (as Flickr-Getty). May be. Google already allows you to make money from blogs (Adsense). Link Facebook to your bank account and voilà. These companies may despise each other – but when it comes to shareholder value and efficiency they will do the deals – not so far-fetched now.
We want cheap news. Touch screen tablet computers mean more images – No one will notice watermarks in the sea.
Who will survive? I’m no expert, but I guess the rich and connected (nothing new), the specialist artists/photographers (like Corbijn) and those few with enough quality education to making a living off deciphering the ‘context’ in the post-modern tidal wave.
What would Google do?
—–> Billions of auto-tagged images/categorised by us. Practically free. Immediate access. Less photographers.