Post-photography and the city
I have recently worked for a London based agency photographing the iagonal Mar area in my city, Barcelona, for a publication intended to support a new real estate development with very unique characteristics.
My assignment required capturing the lively life of the area and its new parks, museums, university schools, congress facilities, shopping centers ... in photographs that would convey to the viewer and possible investor an ideal image of the city.
I have a lot of experience in photographing the city, its architecture and the relationship of people with the urban landscape and I can implement a personal look to create an attractive vision of Barcelona and to do so efficiently and productively. Even so, I recognize that creating quality images that represent the city in all its glory is becoming increasingly complicated.
The urban landscape is not usually tidy and it is quite often not as clean as you might expect, although this is part of taking pictures on the street and something that you have to cope with. You have to deal also with all the people that you must include or not in your photographs and consider the legal aspects of doing so and, of course, ask for all the necessary authorizations to access some places and assess the counterparts that this entails.
Anyway, these are all issues that you have to solve as a photographer because they are not unusual in a photography commission like this. Managing these issues may slow down the production a little bit, increase its cost slightly or maybe need more editing time, nothing uncommon in a professional environment.
Surely it will be necessary going far more than an extra mile and this is something that you will assume without hesitation because, after all, these photographs are going to be signed with your name. If quality is a must and it is your vision of the city the one that will be published, I am sure that any photographer will understand me.
The biggest problem of photographing the city is not in my opinion found on location but in the very consideration of my work when I have delivered it, in the consideration of my photographs as valid representations of the city.
We do live in post-photography times, an era characterized by the massification of images and by their circulation online, in which I know that millions of images of the same places that I have very carefully photographed are available at ridiculous prices for their immediate use in microstock agencies.
It really doesn’t matter that most of these images are not professional ones or that their quality is much more than questionable, what is essential is that they do exist and that they are very cheap.
The point for me in this question is the photography market trying to even amateurs and professionals to finally become another low cost resource in which we photographers have to work with the added pressure of competing in an endless auction bidding for the lowest price, and that is already happening.
Any quality professional activity that represents an author's vision intended to create added value to communication takes time and requires people capable of assuming challenges and providing innovative and profitable solutions.
If we definitely fall into the trap of low cost, then quality will be compromised. Maybe we should keep in mind that professional photography is not an expense, it is definitely an investment.