Saturday, April 11, 2009

David Hemmings Just Shrugs

Ah, news from London. Clearly a world capital of photography -- after all, "Thomas" from "Blowup" took a few snaps there -- but lately so confused on the role of photographers.

Should they be feared or feted? It's a city saturated in surveillance cams, but lately on the edge of making public photography a crime, or at least a warning sign that you must be a terrorist.

The unstoppable rise of the citizen cameraman
"The social impact of this revolution has still to be fully understood. Usually its consequences have been written about rather darkly, in terms of CCTV cameras and the surveillance state, but recent events in Britain offer a different verdict. The digital camera is an egalitarian piece of technology - cheap (most mobile phones have them), easy to use, convenient to carry and quick to produce images that can be spread throughout cyberspace in seconds. What we are witnessing, as any professional photojournalist will tell you, is the unstoppable rise of the citizen-photographer. Last Thursday, at the demonstration outside the G20 summit in east London, I saw them at work. A small war of cameras. Police were stopping, searching and photographing demonstrators at Canning Town tube station; the demonstrators photographed the police as they took their photographs; sometimes - a third viewpoint - a video maker turned up to get both sides in the same shot. It seemed to me then that the camera, so often accused of spreading violence by its fixation with physical aggression, could also be one of violent behaviour's great restraints."

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