But what if we reimagined photography?
Reimagine… The dictionary gives us insight into the word reimagine.
- 1. to form a mental image of (something not actually present to the senses).
- 2. to think, believe, or fancy: He imagined the house was haunted.
- 3. to assume; suppose: I imagine they’ll be here soon.
- 4. to conjecture; guess: I cannot imagine what you mean.
- 5. Archaic. to plan, scheme, or plot.
verb (used without object), imagined, imagining.
- 6. to form mental images of things not present to the senses; use the imagination.
- 7. to suppose; think; conjecture.
How does the dictionary definition of reimagine jive with the notion of evolution rather than revolution? That question is the central thesis in this story and I wish I knew the answer.
I am far too old to reimagine photography. I have practiced it in five different decades and I am happy with MY predictable results. But in younger people I see an incredible thirst – even lust for something new, funky, bold, disruptive. And it is the young people who predictably shift the paradigm. They are less likely to be satisfied with incremental change. They want things to be disrupted. Unfortunately, they often want things to be disrupted for the mere sake of disruption and I doubt that is very helpful.
But to those photographers who truly have a desire to forget all constraints and start fresh, I say good on ya! Go for it.
Every Generation Makes Changes
My generation was mostly satisfied with incremental changes. I suppose in our own way we participated in our share of disruption. We started using scanners and digital printing techniques, eventually doing our post work in Photoshop and not in the darkroom. We started using digital sensors to capture images instead of film. And on a more incremental change, we started (or at least I did) shooting with the final image in mind, regardless of the 2:3 or 4:5 aspect ratio.
But there is no denying that I (and many of my generation) are comfortable with established boundaries – at least some of them. We optimize our image-making to fit within those boundaries because we know how to get a result that pleases us.
But I suspect the next great breakthrough in photography will happen when someone blows up those boundaries. Consider the difference between something like a Sony Walkman and an Apple iPod then an iPhone. Now that was a boundary-blowing change. We probably need that kind of change in photography.
The secret of true innovation comes from knowing that innovation requires us to make something nobody thought was possible. . . to make something that people may not even know that they want, like or need.