Preliminary exercise

The preliminary exercise for the DIC course is to “re-photograph every photographic image that you encounter on a single day”.  It is not until you attempt the exercise however, that you realise that it is somewhat easier said than done.  So many of the images that we see on a daily basis are only viewed fleetingly; posters viewed as we drive by or adverts flashed up on the television screen are good examples.

The grid of photographs included here shows (or at least represents) all of the images that I saw yesterday.  I should point out though, that it was not possible to photograph everything, and that sometimes, one photograph has been used to represent a series or theme.  In total, the grid contains 170 photographs, which were taken inside my home, and on a day trip to my local town centre where I visited a couple of museums.

Interestingly, I think that my choice of activity, skewed my results from what people might normally expect.  I visited both a science and a historical museum, so a lot of the images that I encountered were used to provide information and/or to act as a historical record.  I don’t imagine though, that these kinds of images are typically so prominent on a day-to-day basis.  What I would expect most people to encounter, is a plethora of commercial images (both product photography and advertising).  There were certainly a lot of commercial images in my set, and in fact, a quick count suggests that these still made up over 60% of what I saw yesterday.

Overall then, this exercise has confirmed my preconceptions.  Commercial photography is everywhere.  It is the most common type of photograph that we see.  We see it in our homes, on our televisions/computers/phones, out on our streets and in the places that we visit.  These images constantly surround us, but it was not until I started actively looking for them, that I recognised just how pervasive this is.  Personally though, I think that this just illustrates that people have become very good at filtering out the images that they aren’t interested in.  I suppose that this is essential, otherwise, given the constant bombardment of images that we have today, we would never be able to focus on anything else.

I suppose that some people might find this situation alarming but personally, I quite like having photographs everywhere we look.  I enjoy the colours and the vibrancy.  And I think that the world would look pretty dull without it (although I suppose to be fair, non-commercial images on billboards etc. would be far more attractive to look at but I just don’t see it happening any time soon!).

Having completed this exercise, my thoughts keep retuning to Martin Parr’s Common Sense series.  He used this series to document how consumer-driven modern culture had become and I wonder, what would he make of the situation now, 15-20 years later?

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