Why does photography matter ?


For this discussion I have chosen this image by the Marine and Natural history Flip Necklin. I have followed his work for a number of years and I am really drawn into his use of animals and landscape, to make the viewer think twice. looking at the image you could just see a polar bear swimming, but this isn't what he is portraying. He is showing the majestic animal struggling with a new environment it isn't accustom to. We are used to seeing the image of a polar bear depicted on a large flat bed of snow and ice, but in this image we just see water the the obvious presence of the sun. This invokes a feeling of importance not only to the animal but to its unnatural environment, bringing us to question, where is the ice ? where is the snow ? this is something that I work on when capturing my own images. I feel making the viewer look and think about your image is far more important than them leaving without question or knowledge.

Interesting peer responses;

  • Jo Sutherst

Saturday17 Sep at 15:20

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Thanks for choosing this photograph.

To me the image is striking because of the blue colour and the contrast of the polar bear's fur. I hadn't realised the meaning behind the image until I read your comments. Now I see it. Without the explanation, I would probably missed the context all together as it isn't an animal I know a lo about.

I agree that our images should make people look and thing about them. The challenge is to compose our images and choose our topics to do that.

Looking forward to getting to know you during the course :)

  • Ashley Truckey

Ashley Truckey

Saturday17 Sep at 16:21

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Thought provoking idea. I think it is a great goal to capture images in such a way that causes viewers to think about what they're seeing in a critical way. I believe the norm is often the opposite for most photographers when they take photos. Thanks for sharing Flip Nicklin's work, as I hadn't heard of him before.

  • Chris Forrest

Chris Forrest

Sunday18 Sep at 6:43

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I think this is a great image that gives a powerful message about a key global issue. The composition is really good with the empty space where the viewer thinks there should be more. I saw this in a newspaper a while ago but I hadn't heard of the photographer so I just did a quick google search. He has some great work. Thanks a lot for sharing Jedd.

  • Jedd Griffin

Jedd Griffin

Sunday18 Sep at 9:49

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Thank you all for your response. its so nice sharing images with people and having feedback. I will look forward to all your critique and input in the future, as i see we have a very diverse mix of photographers and artist ideologies.

  • Chris Northey

Chris Northey

Sunday18 Sep at 16:16

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Like Jo I must confess that I would not have considered the global message this image is portraying when it is taken out of context - I would just have admired the inherent beauty & skill of the photographer in capturing the shot. I guess this reminds us that we sometimes loose control of the message our images are portraying once they are released 'into the wild'. Making the viewer think and question is a very important part of our jobs within visual communication as you mention - if our images do not challenge the status-quo or grab the attention then they have probably failed in the reason of their creation.

  • Paul Peach

Paul Peach

Sunday18 Sep at 18:36

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Hi Jedd,

I just viewed some of Flip Neckline images online and I see these marine mammal photographs captures his style of photography with the movement of water around them.

This particular photo feels very clean and I think the blue wash of colour and water gives the viewer the sense of Isolation and perhaps a little less snow as you say, but I don't think I would quite go as far as saying the Polar Bear is not in its natural environment, they are actually very good swimmers by all accounts and are generally happy in the cool water, perhaps we should be admiring how well they swim ?, but I do get the point about the global warming message.

https://www.polartrec.com/resources/fast-and-fun-fact/why-is-a-polar-bear-considered-a-marine-mammal (Links to an external site.)

Thanks for sharing this image and photographer with us.

Paul

  • Josephine Purcell

Josephine Purcell

Monday19 Sep at 11:15

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Hello - my first reaction to the image is, as Paul mentions, that polar bears are great swimmers and divers. However, used in context highlighting the depletion of sea ice and its effect on the lives of these animals, it gains a deeper meaning and becomes illustrative of a major issue. The bear does actually seem to have a questioning look (apologies for the anthropomorphising) on its face, maybe just in reaction to the photographer. It would be interesting to see the wider location of this shot too.

Some interesting polar bear facts here: http://www.polarbearsinternational.org/about-polar-bears/essentials/the-sea-bear (Links to an external site.)

  • Jedd Griffin

Jedd Griffin

Yesterday20 Sep at 10:21

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Thankyou for the amazing response. Whilst working for the PBI in Canada I met two amazing doctors called dr. Stephen amstrup and dr. Ian sterling. Our main focus was to document the unnatural swimming patterns of the native species. Polar bears are very capable of swimming this is due to there over sized webbed paws, but they only do this for very specific reasons naturally, mating, ice placement migration and hunting. But the polar bears in our study were finding it a lot harder to differentiate between swimming for a reason and swimming without reason this led to malnutrition and a large drop in newborn bears. We noticed that they had very Unnatural swimming patterns where high temperatures are recorded. So the natural swimming patterns are directly effected by the condition of the ice, usually high temperatures in the area in which the ice thinned due to the uncharacteristically high temperatures has a very detrimental affect on natural behaviour .


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