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Compare and Contrast online vs gallery exhibition photography
NIKON D70 - 31.9 sec, f 3.5 at 18 mm, ISO

Compare and Contrast online vs gallery exhibition photography

Compare and contrast photography presented online with photography available to the public in galleries and exhibitions. 15 Marks.

June is the Auckland Festival of Photography. It's a great time to be someone that makes photos. There is a huge number of free exhibitions to see all month. The highlight of the festival will be Photoday, which is this Saturday.

The Mission
Last Sunday it was fine and clear, although chilly in the wind, so rather than sit in the house we took a trip in the car to see all the North Shore exhibitions. I had marked off all 6 in the program and found their locations.

First stop, the Mairangi Arts Center to see photos from Photoday 2005 which I was really looking forward to. It was closed for Queens Birthday weekend, dammit. Next was Devonport Public Library. Nope, no photos to see there either despite what it said in the official program.

So we wandered over to The Depot to see "Inside the North Shore" which is an exhibition of "established and emerging photographic artists". The photos at The Depot did nothing for me really. There was a couple that really inspired, but the rest were so so.

Next it was over to Northcote (or Chinatown as it should really be called) to Northart to see Ron Fitzwilliam: Selected Works 1955 - 2005. Mr Fitzwilliam's work was excellent stuff indeed.

The Compare and the Contrast
On Sunday morning in the space of 3 hours we burned $30 of gas and $8 in snacks and drinks. In total we got to see not much more than 60 photos. 30 of them I considered to be really outstanding. On Sunday afternoon for no cost at all I looked at perhaps 3000 photos in the space of about 4 hours at Flickr, Pbase and the 50 odd photoblogs I really follow closely. Not that I counted, but easily 500 of them would have been so good that I savored them, rolled them around for a bit in my mind.

At Mr Fitzwilliam's exhibition each photo had a little number below them. I had to pick up a bit of paper from the desk, refer to the number on the wall and then back to the paper to find out the title of the image and the year it was taken. That was all the information I had. Look online and you can have the entire back story for every single photo. Invariably you get information on the who the photographer was and where the photo was taken, including the how it was taken by way of the EXIF. Usually there is notes on the post processing involved. In some cases you even get an excellent tutorial on how to achieve the same results for yourself.

I love the feedback loop for online photographers and consumers. I can leave comments on most photoblogs and on Flickr. I can be as constructive or as sycophantic as I like. As a photographer I get feedback almost everyday on my photos. If someone has something nice to say, they say it. If they don't, then they generally say nothing. I know when I've done an average job because I hear nothing from everyone.

At the gallery on the other hand, there was just an old guy sitting behind the desk making sure I didn't wander off with the furniture. I could give nothing directly to the photographer, nor get anything from him. It was so passive. I wasn't at all part of the total process that I've come to know in consuming producing the art online.

Accessibility is the key thing for me. Not that I'm at all comparing Mr Fitzwilliam's skills to mine, but I'm guessing way more people visited this web site today than visited the gallery today where he has his work, given it's location. Not only that, there is over 300 photo's here of huge variation. Mr Fitzwilliam only has 30 on display. It's a pity he's not photoblogging so that we can love his work more. Although I concede he's got to make a living too.

I get to consume much more great photography online that I could afford to offline.

In saying all this though, I'll still be out next weekend checking out the galleries in Auckland. It is afterall the only photography festival Auckland has each year!

I've written before that the web should be the death of the coffee table photography book. I wonder if it too should be the death of small photography exhibitions? Or as Darren points out, perhaps it's the act of having to get out to hunt the art that's the appeal of the exhibition of photography?

What do you think?

The Photo
I was having trouble sleeping last night so I got up real early to take some sunrise photos. Unfortunately the forecast was wrong again and it was cloudy. Anyways, that's me on Waiake Beach (yes I should have stood still) watching the sunrise. I learned a bunch of stuff this morning. Firstly, dogs out for a walk in the early hours can trip over tripods and ruin 3 minute exposure shots. Secondly people out walking their dogs on the beach point out that yesterday morning was a much, much better sunrise (yeah thanks). And lastly, I need to spend a lot longer with it as the best stuff occurred after I had left.

Captured: 2006:06:07 06:26:19
Posted: Wednesday, June 7, 2006, 5:27 pm
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