During my Photojournalism MA we had a small group discussion about a picture one of my classmates took for an editorial project. I can’t remember what the picture was of, in fact you’ll see that this isn’t important: A debate erupted which led to my tutor dismissing pictures with a sense of humour as ‘cheesy’. Well, that’s how I interpreted it, and while I agree photographs are often judged in this way, I think it’s wrong to dismiss them – they have a place. Have a look at Matt Stuart. His work is very playful, and he clearly works very hard to develop his ability to see and capture these moments.
I went to the Japanese photobook exhibition at the Photographers Gallery. An excellent show, but the point is that I was lucky enough to arrive when a free talk was going on. The speaker, doctorate student Jelena Stojkovic specialising in Japanese photobooks, spoke briefly about the fact that in Japanese culture photobooks existed of ‘cute’ animals. And this was accepted, not viewed as tacky, chesesy in Japanese culture. This implies, and I think most would agree, that it is viewed as tacky in ours.
It’s interesting that these rules exist culturally. Is it because we think images that are funny or of cute animals don’t challenge us? Because these pictures are considered some kind of folly?
And please don’t misunderstand me, I love well researched an meaningful projects, but is there no room for something which just perfectly or creatively captures a moment?
Here’s a picture of my friends daughter. She was two the next day and we took her to the South Bank. I think its the best portrait I’ve taken this year. It captures her well, and something of the experience of being a child.