Essay

HAS SOCIAL MEDIA CHANGED THE WAY WE THINK OF PHOTOGRAPHY?

When Stephen Shore was at his peak in late 90’s he was always taking photographs of his day to day life, whether that’d be what he’d be having for lunch or where he’d be taking a walk that evening, there was always something for him to take a photo of. His pictures influenced street photography a lot and people are still inspired by him to this day. This worked back in the day, the colours that his camera’s produced and the settings gave him a very distinct style, you would be able to tell which photographs were taken by him, but in this day and age it doesn’t quite work so well. Shore started using the social media platform Instagram to post his images in 2014, he still uses the same concept of his older work, but now he uses an iPhone 5 and uploads straight to Instagram. He believes that: “The idea of sharing immediately I find greatly pleasurable and satisfying,” he says. “To see the image right now, and then communicate it, to tell people this is what I’ve observed, what I’ve noted, seems to be the step that was missing for all of us…until now” (source). Compared to his later work, personally, I believe that the pictures he posts has no real effort, there is no uniqueness to his images anymore, he may be posting random pictures that he’s taken throughout his day, but anyone could do this, his later work was more meaningful because of the steps it took to get the images, first he would have had to set up the camera, make sure that the lighting is good enough, make sure that the camera is steady, then even after all that he wouldn’t know how the images turned out until they got developed, which is another meaningful and exciting process of a film camera.

An image from Stephen Shore’s ‘Uncommon Places’ (1982)

I do like some of the images that Shore posts to his Instagram account, there are some interesting photographs that are very minimal but thought provoking, they make you wonder about his thoughts behind taking the image, or why it seems so special to him in the moment, important enough to take a photo.

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Instagram post by Stephen Shore (

But then there are images like this that he shares, the lighting is bad, which makes it slightly grainy, there is too much red, natural lighting would have made it easier to look at, there is also too much going on in one image that the viewer doesn’t know what to look at. There is also no caption, so, as the viewer, we are confused as to what the image is connoting or if it even has any meaning at all.

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