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Archive for November, 2012

Photographic Style, Voice & Story

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Photographers bang on about style like it was something you decide and follow through – wedding photography, black and white, strobes. That’s it, you’re done. Consistency in that paradigm equates to style. However, I disagree.

First, style isn’t about the camera you use or the film type. If you put a 35mm in the hands of Edward Weston, or a colour digital, he would still produce images in the style of Edward Weston.

On the flip side of that statement, the style of Cartier-Bresson wasn’t that he shot 35mm black and white film. Anybody could do that. Cartier-Bresson’s style was in the journalistic story and the visual vocabulary of what he had to say about the world.

Second, style isn’t a premeditated attempt to capture a “unique look”. That isn’t style, it’s a consistency of aesthetic description. The pictures a photographer makes come from the mind: cameras don’t make photographs, people make photographs.

Third, style evolves over a long period of time as a body of work grows and the vision and mind of the photographer expresses through image after image. Style is not a premeditation of software filters or selections of technology that are easily replicated. Pick up a Leica, load some black and white film… no, you haven’t shot through Cartier-Bresson’s eyes with his politics and perspective. No.

However, style can over time include a curatorial respect for discarding the inarticulate. In the end, we only know the images that a photographer is willing to share with the world. That conscious choice at that time is where a photographer inserts the commas and full stops that make a story understandable.

Which drives to the heart of this idea of a style. I much prefer the journalism equivalent of a voice.

This is where you might pull out a pen and paper to write something simple about style. It is about what the photographer has to say about the world. Style is about the story not the camera. It’s the inner voice that a storyteller evolves or discovers that compels them to put that vocabulary together within the constraints of a commas and full stops so they can communicate.

But perhaps a photographer doesn’t have a voice? So what. I don’t care. Consistency is nice and there’s nothing that impels everybody who picks up a camera to stand on a public pulpit to share. Have you noticed a lot of people are babbling with unsophisticated vocabulary about the same old stuff?

Please, UTAS Business School isn’t THAT Stupid

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Nothing devalues a business school more than to have a pooling of bad assumptions at the core of their PhD and MBA programs. Society relies on business schools to educate current and future leadership in large organisations, a role critical in addressing climate change issues on a global scale. But, please, UTAS business school isn’t THAT stupid?

I’m being sincere here. When I did my MBA at the University of Tasmania there was a predominant aggressive climate denialism among the business school faculty. As recent as two months ago an entrepreneurship lecturer linked to non-peer-reviewed climate denialism literature from a right-wing “Think Tank” to push the anti-climate-change agenda.

I was also told a few years ago that were I to pursue an academic research path at the UTAS business school – following my 80% average mark across both a Bachelor of Computing and then a Master of Business Administration (Specialisation) – there would be no academic willing to be my supervisor with “certain views”. In other words, you will only get supervision for subjects and ideas held by existing faculty.

The existing paradigm that has to be supported by existing academic supervisors equates to papers that underpin a globalised world economy that can and should grow exponentially and without checks and balances. A world where resources will always exist. A world where environmental degradation won’t cut the throat of business outcomes eventually. My criticism is that in science there is ample evidence that our current state of business process is altering oceans, killing biodiversity and contaminating a limited fresh water supply; and mostly our reward is the making and selling of what can only be called crap.

Don’t point to your iPhone… look around your room and look at the plastic and the bits and bobs that you don’t need and never needed. In my view, we’ve bought so far into the consumerism driven paradigm that it’s going to take great pain to bring us out the other side. Pain that won’t be popular. Pain that won’t be making big fat-cat profits that rise exponentially on corporate charts.

But I’ve had this argument with business school faculty before. I argued for a month (to save my mark from a Pass back to a High Distinction on a Business Ethics assignment) because my course perpetuated the Pinto Myth and refused to accept that it was a myth. In that argument the PhD lecturer also harshly admonished me for things I said about the history of Corporations being liable for charges like murder. He was wrong and I was correct. But you’ll never get a PhD to admit they don’t have a license to be correct about everything. It’s the one failing of the floppy hat club.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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