Enrique Metinides


In light of the triumph of the digital photograph as the basic semantic unit of New Media, this paper investigates the response of photographic education to the culture of ubiquitous mobile and networked photography. It argues that photographic education fails to address such contemporary conditions as the crisis of the visual, the demise of the still photograph and the redundancy of the notion of authorship because it perceives the digital turn in technological terms. This paper suggests that if the digital moment in photography will be approached conceptually rather than technologically, it will present photography educators with a unique opportunity to place the study of the digital photograph at the centre of a culture which is based on reproduction, multiplication and copying.


The tasks that photography education is committed to, those of teaching how to make photographs and how to interpret them, never seemed more redundant and obsolete than in the present moment. The resignation of photography education in the face of digital culture crippled it and proved its irrelevance to everyone beside itself. Photography education knows of no method with which to approach New Media image culture; instead, it attempts in vain to prolong its survival by clinging to the historical moment of photography, not realizing that this moment has passed and that it has nothing to offer to the present besides obsolete judgments and inadequate interpretations.

At the heart of photography education there is a contradiction verging on a paradox. As Susan Sontag observes: cameras define reality in the two ways essential to the working of an advanced industrial society: as a spectacle (for masses) and as an object of surveillance (for rulers). (Sontag 366)

Quotes via A Photo Student

“I don’t care so much anymore about ‘good photography’, I am gathering evidence for history.” – Gilles Peress
“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” – Dorothea Lange
“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place…. I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” – Elliott Erwitt
“I have never taken a picture for any other reason than that at that moment it made me happy to do so.” – Jacques-Henri Lartigue
“I photograph only something that has to do with me, and I never did anything that I did not want to do. I do not do editorial and I never do advertising. No, my freedom is something I do not give away easily.” – Josef Koudelka
“Finding a photograph is often like picking up a piece from a jigsaw-puzzle box with the cover missing. There’s no sense of the whole. Each image is a mysterious part of something not yet revealed.” – Susan Meiselas
“I’m very much against photographs being framed and treated with reverence and signed and sold as works of art. They aren’t. They should be seen in a magazine or a book and then be used to wrap up the fish and chucked away.” – Lord Snowdon
“Sometimes I have taken photographs and just felt so excited that I could barely hold the camera steady, and the photo was boring.” – Robert Rauschenberg