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Wim Wenders: Phones Have Made Photography ‘More Dead Than Ever’
Old 08-01-2018   #1
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Wim Wenders: Phones Have Made Photography ‘More Dead Than Ever’

Wim Wenders: Phones Have Made Photography ‘More Dead Than Ever’
From Michael Zhang at PetaPixel

Renowned German photographer and filmmaker Wim Wenders thinks that photography “is more dead than ever” and that smartphones are to blame for the art form’s demise. In this 1.5-minute video produced by BBC News, Wenders stops at an exhibition of his Polaroid photos to share some of his thoughts on the current landscape of photography.

Wenders believes that part of the devaluation of photography comes from the fact that even though so many more photos are being captured every year, so many fewer photos are being treasured and enjoyed in the way they were before.

“The trouble with iPhone pictures is nobody sees them,” Wenders says. “Even the people who take them don’t look at them anymore, and they certainly don’t make prints.”

And even though phones are getting loaded with more and more features and filters, they may not be helping people become creative photographers.

“I know from experience that the less you have, the more creative you have to become,” the photographer notes.

Basically, Wenders doesn’t think very highly of the smartphone’s place in the world of “serious” photography, and he doesn’t even think that most picture-taking done on smartphones should even be called ‘photography’…

“I’m in search of a new word for this new activity that looks so much like photography but isn’t photography anymore,” Wenders concludes.

Copyright © 2018 PetaPixel
https://petapixel.com/2018/08/01/wim...ead-than-ever/

I don't know that I completely agree with Wenders but, I think he's certainly correct in a lot of what he says, to my thinking. Printing, and the lack of it, is a big factor in this..
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Old 08-01-2018   #2
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Wim Wenders is right.

Erik.
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Old 08-01-2018   #3
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He's both right and wrong, pointing a polaroid camera at a piece of pie (or anything for that matter) does not constitute a practice of photography.

Oh and on his last point for a word for "it", I have 2 words: digital imaging.
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Old 08-01-2018   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PKR View Post
....................... Basically, Wenders doesn’t think very highly of the smartphone’s place in the world of “serious” photography, and he doesn’t even think that most picture-taking done on smartphones should even be called ‘photography’…

“I’m in search of a new word for this new activity that looks so much like photography but isn’t photography anymore,” Wenders concludes ................. .
Meanwhile, many of us are too busy making our own idea of photographs to worry about what people with smartphones are doing. They sure have no impact on me or my photography.
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Old 08-01-2018   #5
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Wim Wenders is right.

Erik.
I think, in some instances phones have introduced "photography" to some who would never have found it otherwise. And, a camera phone in the hands of a good visualist is just another, "often more handy", recording tool. But, overall.. I agree with you.
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Old 08-01-2018   #6
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I use film and digital including a smartphone.
I don`t think many care what Wenders thinks because we`re all just getting on doing what we`re doing.
Sounds like a bit of attention seeking to me.
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Old 08-01-2018   #7
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Interesting that he would express this but it has been going on for a long time now and I don't see it changing ... the smart phone has become the tool of social media where it records moments that people prefer to share on line. I don't see that as a problem because it's all a lot of people want and it's been happening since Kodak put a camera in the hands of someone in nearly every family in the world and there are shoe boxes filled with the results in nearly every household. The smart phone has become the digital progression of that trend in what has become a near totally digital world.

I worry more that the smart phone has become the brain of the current human being and it makes decisions for them on a daily basis that they used to make themselves.
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Old 08-01-2018   #8
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Meanwhile, many of us are too busy making our own idea of photographs to worry about what people with smartphones are doing. They sure have no impact on me or my photography.
Agree.
Wenders is ... in business with photography and arts.
We need not and so let´s follow the way of the most pictures that haven´t made yet
I just shoot what I want when I want and where I want. And it happens that I use my phone sometimes.

"More dead than ever" perhaps means a kind of exclusivity that died with that incredible machines people needed for photographing long time ago.

Just my 5ct
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Old 08-01-2018   #9
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Sounds like a bit of attention seeking to me.
I don't think WW is the guy who needs attention...
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Old 08-01-2018   #10
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I'll add that Wenders' Paris Texas is my favourite all time movie by some margin.
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Old 08-01-2018   #11
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Meanwhile, many of us are too busy making our own idea of photographs to worry about what people with smartphones are doing. They sure have no impact on me or my photography.
Hi Bob;

I think today, a lot of good photography gets lost in the social media photo tsunami.

Years back, my studio mate, who makes a lot of TV spots and isn't known for his intellectual pronouncements regarding, Art said that he thought MTV had destroyed the public's appreciation of Art. I think he made a very intelligent observation. Now, with social media and camera phones, the trend is exponential in its consumption.

https://petapixel.com/2017/06/30/tru...one-style-ads/

I think that this kind of reasoning comes from the New view of what makes a good photo. I see it a lot now.
https://petapixel.com/2011/07/13/why...nline-critics/

Bob, I hope you're happy and in good health !
best, pkr
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Old 08-01-2018   #12
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Sounds a bit curmudgeonly to me. It stands to reason there are more good photographs now more than ever, as there are more better books, music, etc. simply because a lot more people are doing it as amateurs and as professionals. Whether they are taken with a phone is beside the point with regard to quality.

He conflates prints with good and old with good, which seems below him as he is a talented artist and should know the trap of nostalgia is ever lurking. Being the comments were made discussing his Polaroid show, this might not be the case. I'm guessing he thinks Fuji Instax is some sort of app.
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Old 08-01-2018   #13
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I think real photography stopped with the daguerreotype process.

It was exclusive enough and dangerous enough and expensive enough to make each one of a kind image produced to be highly treasured.
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Old 08-01-2018   #14
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I'll add that Wenders' Paris Texas is my favourite all time movie by some margin.

It was Alice in the Cities that made me a Wim Wenders fan.
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Old 08-01-2018   #15
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My thoughts on this is that WW is pointing out that there is such an overwhelming amount of photos today where not a lot of thought went into taking them. You just point your iPhone or Android, and blithely shoot away, without any consideration of content or composition.

The big game changer though is the Internet, with all its blogs, forums, personal web sites, and social media where one can post this profusion of images that, were we still in the Kodak Brownie ages, we'd never be inundated with them.

And the copy-cat way folks do things now. They see an extremely interesting photo, and the next thing you know, they and thousands more just like them are booking flights to far flung locales just so they can have their own version of "that photo". On their phone.

But photography is not dead. It's just gone into overdrive on cruise control.

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Old 08-01-2018   #16
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Old 08-01-2018   #17
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"I'll add that Wenders' Paris Texas is my favourite all time movie by some margin." Too true, Keith.

The only film I've seen more than once deliberately, up to about five times and it's still a visual treat.

WWis largely right but him saying this will have no effect whatsoever.



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Old 08-01-2018   #18
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I would be close to saying that 90% of photos taken with phones are shared on social media ie: FB, Insta etc etc. A lot of it is irrelevant.
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Old 08-01-2018   #19
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Smartphone photography is phonygraphy
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Old 08-01-2018   #20
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Smartphones haven't killed photography there are quiet a few rather good photographs made with Smartphones. Exclusivity doesn't make a great Photograph a good vision makes a good photograph the tool to achieve said vision is secondary.
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Old 08-02-2018   #21
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Smartphones haven't killed photography there are quiet a few rather good photographs made with Smartphones. Exclusivity doesn't make a great Photograph a good vision makes a good photograph the tool to achieve said vision is secondary.
DUK,

Semantics over the title of this thread and the included link are not to be confused with a meaningful contribution.

Cheers,
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Old 08-02-2018   #22
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And when photography was invented didn't someone say that from then on art was dead?

Anyway, I never knew that photography was about producing a masterpiece. A lot of us use photography as a sort of personal notebook.

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Old 08-02-2018   #23
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....................... The big game changer though is the Internet, with all its blogs, forums, personal web sites, and social media where one can post this profusion of images that .................... And the copy-cat way folks do things now. They see an extremely interesting photo, and the next thing you know ..................

That is not limited to "others" and not us. Just look at the self portrait thread here on RF and see how many are just members standing in front of a mirror pointing their camera at themselves photographing themselves.
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Old 08-02-2018   #24
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I don't know that I completely agree with Wenders but, I think he's certainly correct in a lot of what he says, to my thinking. Printing, and the lack of it, is a big factor in this..
Some years ago I attended an exhibition in Arles. It was made of dozens of thousands of small anonymous printed color photos from the 1970s and 1980s, all put in the same room. That made a huge pile of several cubic meters. Those photos were of those nobody used to look at for more than a few seconds when they used to come from the lab or out of the Polaroid toy. Their life as printed photographs was the exact same as the digital snaps made nowadays. The only difference is the format. Printed vs electronic.

Smartphones haven't changed anything. There are people taking photographs and looking after what their photographs become once taken, and there are people taking snaps and forgetting them very quickly. The "social networks" are just an anecdote.

If "the good old times" had been so "good", we wouldn't be finding some finished yet undeveloped films in cameras or tons of abandoned printed photos lots and albums at the fleas markets.

Wenders is right to say that things have changed. But what he doesn't want to see is that things have changed because he has now become old, and not only in his body it seems.

Some years ago he got paid for a Leica M8 commercial in which he praised the new "digital age"... Hahaha.

I like him very much as a film maker. "Alice in the cities" being my favorite among all of his movies, and I have carefully seen them all several times. I even met him in the flesh once. But that's a bit disappointing - if not frantic - to see that' he's now more or less in the camp of the old and grumpy men telling that disperaging "It was better before".

Some should watch the last interviews of Saul Leiter. He was alone, old and almost poor, his beloved Soames Bantry had died long ago, but he was not moaning and living in the past because of smartphones and digital photography.
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Old 08-02-2018   #25
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I agree with Wim Wenders 100%.

The problem is not the tool itself (smartphone) but the way it is used. Of course the way it is used comes from the many possibilities it offers. And most people prefer to use the easiest way!

To be creative you need to have your brain working, thinking, elaborating, comparing, looking for alternatives... pushing a button to apply a filter is not creativity... maybe is fun, amusement and nothing wrong with this but it is not creativity.

Selfies are not self-portraits. I made much work on self portrait for a personal project (film based) and sometimes I had to drive hours to find the appropriate location ... each shot session was planned before... again selfies are fun and nothing wrong with them (I too make selfies!) but are not self portraits.

Too often smartphone pictures are just taken, looked at a few seconds and than forgotten...

WW has in his filmography two interesting movies very related to visual communication: "Lisbon Story" and "Until the end of the world". Worthwhile to look at if you find them.

robert

Disclaimer: I'm a great fan of his work, both as photographer and as movie director.
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Old 08-02-2018   #26
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Actually he is 100% wrong photography as a medium is more appreciated than it ever was before. until a few years ago photography had a very bad standing Photographs were thrown away by the millions by both Institution as well as private persons, now you have apps that allow you to create photobooks from your Smartphone photographs yes the majority is meh but this is no different than the photographs of the past. Also the Selfie has been in existence pretty much since the dawn of photography, the vast majority of holiday photographs were selfies or familiy photographs just like today.
The presentation has changed not the content.
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Old 08-02-2018   #27
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I think WW is 100% right. It's not about the medium (and he acknowledges the technological advances and advantages it offers). It's about our attitude and how we use the technology. In most of cases smartphones are just used to push to button, not to take the picture or create photography. Yes, there were crappy photos from medium and large format film cameras and there were good ones, so is with smartphone, but the attitude of an average user has changed. There is simply much much more that we through away even without looking at it for a second time after we push the button.
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Old 08-02-2018   #28
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This week, I have been going through boxes of old family photos spanning the past 100 years or so while visiting my parents. Guess what. An overwhelming majority of the hundreds of photos I’ve seen suck from any aesthetic viewpoint. It’s seems to be no different today than it was then. I’m fascinated by the subject matter because of its personal importance, but the medium and the messenger were flawed. One thing smartphones have going for them: it’s easier for the less photographically inclined to produce a decent snapshot than it was for folks in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s...
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Old 08-02-2018   #29
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I think WW is 100% right. It's not about the medium (and he acknowledges the technological advances and advantages it offers). It's about our attitude and how we use the technology. In most of cases smartphones are just used to push to button, not to take the picture or create photography. Yes, there were crappy photos from medium and large format film cameras and there were good ones, so is with smartphone, but the attitude of an average user has changed. There is simply much much more that we through away even without looking at it for a second time after we push the button.
I still don't see a difference between the average snapshot photographer of bygone years and todays smartphone photographers. The vast majority of photographs were forgotten by the photographer either shortly after he took the photograph or shortly after he received the print. The landed in boxes or later in albums that landed in the attic in the cellar or in the cupboard soon to be forgotten. Important (emotionally)photographs for the photographer then an now were appreciated the rest forgotten
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Old 08-02-2018   #30
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I still don't see a difference between the average snapshot photographer of bygone years and todays smartphone photographers. The vast majority of photographs were forgotten by the photographer either shortly after he took the photograph or shortly after he received the print. The landed in boxes or later in albums that landed in the attic in the cellar or in the cupboard soon to be forgotten. Important (emotionally)photographs for the photographer then an now were appreciated the rest forgotten
In boxes, albums, attic, cellar - wherever - they are alive in a sense that next generation might discover and love them and pass to another generation. Now the button is pushed even without INTENTION to have a photograph. It's just a habit to do it without thinking. Purpose and intention in most cases is different vs what it used to be when using real cameras. I don't see WW saying smartphones killed photography, I don't take it literally. He admits using smartphones and taking pictures but he does not see it's the same photography as with cameras (again - in most of cases).
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Old 08-02-2018   #31
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This could be said for most digital photography including digital photography with a camera you can store 5000 photographs on a Card and if the Card is full you delete most of them.
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Old 08-02-2018   #32
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Like those prizes one gets for being the one millionth person to buy something at some chain store, perhaps the reason Petapixel posted his thoughts is that he is the one millionth person to make the exact same observation.

It it were Kim Wenders saying the same thing, instead of Wim Wenders, it would be just as beside the point. The world has moved on, and no one cares. Though, I guess some people care as we have seen in this very thread that Wenders is both 100% right and 100% wrong, which is quite the accomplishment. 98%, heck no, it’s 100%. Maybe he is a genius, pulling that off.

I did enjoy “Wings of Desire”, though, but that was back when I did more drugs than I do now.

The one thing I did find interesting about watching his video is discovering that he sounds exactly like Giorgio Moroder.
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Old 08-02-2018   #33
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The one thing I did find interesting about watching his video is discovering that he sounds exactly like Giorgio Moroder.
Well, then he is definitely a genius

And, I guess, there is a valid reason people want to listed to Wim Wnders, not Kim Wenders (regardless if he's wrong or right, 100% or 76.5%)
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Old 08-02-2018   #34
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There is simply much much more that we through away even without looking at it for a second time after we push the button.
And why is that a problem? If the images are not worth looking at a second time, why not delete them. This is called editing.
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Old 08-02-2018   #35
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And why is that a problem? If the images are not worth looking at a second time, why not delete them. This is called editing.
and who says it's a problem. It's just a fact proving it's different now.
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Old 08-02-2018   #36
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and who says it's a problem. It's just a fact proving it's different now.
A fact of what importance? Really, who cares that more photos are taken and deleted with a cell phone than were taken and thrown away with an Instamatic.
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Old 08-02-2018   #37
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A fact of what importance? Really, who cares that more photos are taken and deleted with a cell phone than were taken and thrown away with an Instamatic.

when you push the button even without an intention to look at what you did, how is that a photography in the way we used to know it?... or maybe just watch the interview...
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Old 08-02-2018   #38
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These are interesting thoughts and opinions here, but we seem to each have our own thoughts and opinions on what is photography and what is not. I once thought that I had to use a LF camera for real photography, but that camera is still sitting on some shelf without ane use since ever in over 10 years now. When will I start using it to create real photos?
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Old 08-02-2018   #39
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when you push the button even without an intention to look at what you did, how is that a photography in the way we used to know it?... or maybe just watch the interview...
When was the last time you pressed the shutter button and didn’t look at the resulting image. Doesn’t happen. It hyperbole. It is not the problem in our times for photography. What's the problem: people bickering about film vs. digital instead of making photographs. Taking fewer digital images does not make film images any better. Photography is not a zero sum game. Making up new names is just yelling get off my lawn. The province of tired old men. If you want to shoot film, show me what you've got. Same as with digital.
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Old 08-02-2018   #40
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...... Really, who cares that more photos are taken and deleted with a cell phone than were taken and thrown away with an Instamatic.
I am still trying to get my head around all of those who are worried about the photos other people take, how many they take, what they do with them, or the public perception of what "photography" is.

Step back and consider that photography is a means of expressing one's own personal vision and has nothing to do with anyone else.
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