Imagine a digital Ansel Adams…

Lemming (public domain)

Lemming (public domain)

Just joined the digital generation…have the feeling I’ve been lagging behind lately. Now on facebook and was viewing a video buddy Kathy Newell posted on her facebook. Views of Half Dome at dusk.

Got me to wondering what Ansel Adams would be producing had he been of this generation. The man who wandered the West looking for haunting images which he froze for time in silver halide.

Would HE have a facebook or a twitter account? Would HE reveal his moment by moment activities and thoughts to the world?

And another icon – personal favorite: W. Eugene Smith. A man tormented by war injuries and a commitment to social justice…who literally lived with his subjects as he photographed them. How would HE fit into today’s narcacistic society? Would he break for a second from documenting mercury poisoning in a small village in Japan to tweet his followers – “Hey, got the greatest shot ever…”?

Is there a Dorthea Lange out there right now setting up a blog, snapping with her new iPhone, prepared to tell the world of new injustices?

Probably. But they may never be known. What made each of the above unique – memorable – is that they were explorers, passionate…but most of all, first and standing alone in a field doing what no one else had done in quite the same way. When you do it alone and break ground, you are remarkable. When you do it simultaneously with a million others, you are part of a pack. And its getting harder and harder to be unique as the size of the pack explodes.

Can you say “lemmings”?


3 thoughts on “Imagine a digital Ansel Adams…

  1. Fascinating question, if not overdue. I do wonder how future generations will frame this birth of social media, where every cook’s a correspondent every plumber’s a poet. Guess it depends on where all this oversharing leads us.

    Would Joe Rosenthal have TwitPicked his famous Iwo Jima shot, before ever scrambling down Mount Suribachi? Would it have lessened its impact if he did? Hmmmmmm….

  2. I don’t think they would have taken social media without seriousness, but it can be taken seriously too. Social media can help funnel funds to a cause and show those donors what they get via photography or why to give.

    They may have shared their experiences with their community of fellow photographers via twitter, facebook or a blog. Who knows? But don’t paint social media with a simple brush of a fad to be outlasted. Social media may have changed the 2008 elections, it may give a people under a religious dictator a voice and it can be a force for change. I think those famous photographers you mentioned would have “got” that.

    • Oh I’m not putting down social media – just wondering how those old timers might have handled it and how it might have changed their vision. In their time change seemed to happen at a slower pace…these days change happens so rapidly it often passes us by while we blink.
      We interface less face to face and more facebook to facebook or tweet to tweet. The old has its good points, as does the new…and both have their bad points.
      My gripe (listen to the old geekette) is that there is so much banal chatter going on that it is hard to hear the individual voices.

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