The progression of photography into normal conversation…

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Snapchat; a fairly new form of communication that has taken photography to a whole new level.

It is particularly interesting in how Snapchat opposes many of the principles of photography that Barthes argues. He wrote how once the lens is open, everything changes; we pose (Camera Lucida, P10). This is because the image could be shared with the whole world. However, Snapchat is different. Only one person will get to see the photograph, for a maximum of ten seconds, sometimes less. This person is often a very close friend; to send a ‘selfie’ for example, generally you know the person well. It has generated a new form of photography where the subjects guard is down somewhat. The picture I have used of myself, I took in one take. I pulled a face, look tired after a late night. Photography becomes normalised, a tool of conversation. And this is the key; people can now have face to face conversation through emotion, and a little text.

In addition, the element of surprise is often prominent. Barthes discusses how the essential gesture of the operator is to surprise someone, and not have them know a photograph is being taken (Camera Lucida, P32). For example, sneaky pictures of people and items are often taken without permission of the subject, and used in a normal conversation. However as the photograph gets deleted, this is ok.

A final point is that Barthes describes photography as authentication in itself (Camera Lucida, P89). With the photograph appearing for just seconds, the mind can play tricks on what has been observed. I personally forget very quickly what someone has sent. There is therefore no record of what has been taken, and thus photography cannot provide authentication.

Snapchat is a whole new way of ‘doing’ photography. It has transformed the art of taking photographs into normal, modern day life, going against many rules of traditional photography. Photography has developed once more.

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