One of my street photography pet peeves is (and there are a few) is how the genre seems to be the ambiguous way in how it is evolving (or mutating, depending on your view of it). Lots are being said in the media about the current and future state of Street Photography, a subject I've also weighed on in a recent posting called "Oh come on! Street Photography isn't dead!"
In that article, I maintained that the future of Street Photography lies in quality, brought to the public eye through highly curated collections. Apart from being a profoundly logical "no-shit-Sherlock" kind of observation, I believe that this form of filtering will greatly enhance the status of the Street Photography genres and ensure that it stays in its rightful place as a true art form.
But, what about the opposite of curated quality platforms? Surely this must be the democratic, freedom of expression worlds of social media. These are platforms where anything goes, where the good and the bad are hardly indistinguishable anymore. It seems like our brains are switching off when bombarded with a constant and infinite scroll of information. Individual information is dished up in such a way that, once we've scrolled past it for that fleeting second, most of the information the posting contains become forgotten history. This is true for almost all types of social media posting (in my opinion).
So how is Street Photography (or any photography for that matter) then logically affected? Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Google+ (to a lesser extent) have made it so easy for anybody to express their appreciation for an image via "likes", "loves" and "+1's". All it takes is a single quick tap (or double-tap) of the finger before one can instantly move on to the next. Like Pavlov's dogs, we tend to instantly, almost habitually "appreciate" or "award" almost anything that contains just the right minimum level of "curb-appeal".
The result of this, which I'm certain almost any serious photographer continues to experience on a regular basis, is that mediocre, cliche-ridden images of sometimes marginal aesthetic quality, containing no interesting story or meaning, receive an unbelievable amount of love. Such images may, by example, be as mundane as some uninteresting person doing something as uninteresting as walking down the street. That's about it! No need to think about it any further - just double tap and move on to the next ...
Sometimes though, a street photographer will capture that absolute, one-in-a-thousand, brilliant moment that contains all the refined qualities that blend together to make that rare masterpiece. Much effort goes into post-processing to ensure that it shown up its optimum brilliance. We wait for the "right" time to proudly unveil our magnum opus to the appreciating masses in the social media world - and it fucking fails miserably! Despite the fact that there is also a lesson in humility in there somewhere, this is a reality. That "masterpiece" is probably just too complex in the composition of all its qualities to be instantly recognizable and appreciable by the human brain that is conditioned to tap when it recognizes something that appears stimulating. That, or I have to face the distinct possibility that my image really is shit, which I will never really know, as hardly anybody dares to give honest critique on social media either.
Don't get me wrong - social media obviously have some value too for creatives in a way that never existed before, but we should remain careful not to see social media as the definitive authority on what is good or bad. This is equally true for many other types of postings too, including memes and quotes that appears profound at first glance, but if one thinks about it a bit more, are actually profoundly stupid. We should continue to exercise our brains, have opinions and challenge our perceptions beyond the automatic, conditioned action of the "double-tap". Photographers, as well as any other creatives, should continue to support excellence beyond run-of-the-mill, daily social media offerings. This brings me to the conclusion that curated online collections really goes a long way to keeping us more intelligent and intellectually stimulated. This is just my opinion ...