Articles | Self-expression is stronger than ever
Moni Blech  

The Albom - Israel Photographers 2006    
                
 
Self-expression is stronger than ever. The desire to be extraordinary, to change the traditional viewpoint, change photography patterns according to which we have been working for many years.
 
Where have the large format films gone, in which we searched for absolute sharpness and clarity in the most delicate of grains? Where are all the huge volumes of film capable of containing endless details of which we have checked with a “loupe” - a magnifying glass of 800% and muttered: “sharp or not sharp enough”? Is it the inconceivable easy going manner in which we download the image to the PC and instantaneously check it and modify it? Are we complete with the common saying “never mind, we will fix it in Photoshop”, and thus accept the evil decree, and yet are we really at ease with this?
 
In one click we see the results – “we like it”, we keep it; “we do not like it”, we delete it and continue on. How many times have we asked ourselves: four million pixels, five million, six, seven, eight… how many millions are satisfactory, maybe three are good enough, as it looks fantastic on the computer screen, and what is next?
 
The immediate self-expression, the excitement in catching the moment, the ability to perpetuate the moment is stronger than ever, coupled with simplicity, swiftness, and accessibility, all come into play in providing us with new creators every minute. Photography has become “cool”. For every moment that we perpetuate, the photograph can be easily sent within seconds to an endless list of recipients.
A new culture or worldwide “trend” has arrived – the camera is now part of almost every electrical instrument. At times it seems that every person is a photographer and that every electrical device is a camera. There are lenses in every corner: in the PC, laptop, and cellular phone. And its size? Sometimes it has the weight of a credit card. So sophisticated and such a wide-range of cameras.
 
And the photos themselves? – The vast amount of photographs exist on our PC’s and fill-up the internet. Miniscule devices in which we store this reservoir of photographs (as well as music and movies alike) are being carried with us everywhere. Printed photo albums revolve more around the documentation of banquets, such as: weddings, Bar-Mitzvahs, in which the packaging and its design are no less important, that the actual photographs.
 
However, let’s stop for a moment! Where is professionalism? Where is sharpness? How can a two megabyte file be enlarged into a poster size? It seems possible, and is actually happening in fact! Has our eye become accustomed to seeing the world in pixels, the digital way? Have we developed a bionic eye? A world of squares, digital television screens, large, flat, luxurious, and attractive pop-ups are everywhere. Yet the picture shifts and smears, thus with quality, it is a different story.
 
Is it just a feeling that with every technological development that rockets sky-high we are, in fact, becoming accustomed to lower quality? Maybe it is no longer that important if the photograph is less sharp, the color inaccurate and saturation too high. Perhaps such a result is even prettier and more interesting? Is it possible that we express ourselves more and more, and this is what it is all about?
 
What do commercial advertisements today look like? Those which we are exposed to, endless advertising campaigns, enormous billboards, advertisement brochures of various companies, all representing the wonders of life, feelings, conditions and events. Many communication and fashion companies do not show us technical photographs anymore. Rather they portray life’s situations, and should we not see in detail the apparel which they represent? There is nothing wrong with that, as we are still part of the experience transferred through the tool of photography. Only if the message is perceived, will it be a success, and that is the leading concept we are left with.
 
Technical photography finds and always will be found as an integral part of our lives, as long as there is a demand for it. However, even in this field, we are witnessing a change and transformation of expression and photography. This process has become more and more convenient: saving photographs, arranging them in archives, and the method of browsing them. Countless computer programs have become common ground, from the simplest to the most sophisticated, such as “Adobe Photoshop”. The final result of the photograph is often determined after complex work of improving the photo is performed, implantation of backgrounds, photomontage and using filters/buffers and special effects, all are integrated into the final product to produce our photography.
The specialized knowledge and know-how of these programs have turned into a “must” amongst professional photographers and has become an integral part of the process.
 
However, as skilled photographers we know that a photograph with the proper light conditions, exposure, resolution and the appropriate type of camera, will lead us to the best results. Is this the moment to ask ourselves: where do we, professional photographers, stand and what are our red lines? What are the criteria in which we judge a photograph today under different concepts than the ones we have been taught, and have the rules of the game been changed in a manner that we have to check a photograph under new criteria? We need to be able to critique much better in order to be able to judge a photograph out the thousands of photographs taken today, and to be able to find the added value of this particular image. So, what do we do? Swim with the current, or continue on sticking to our original faith?
 
We face many difficult questions in this era that we live and create in, yet most of them are left unanswered. The technological world is developing at the speed of light, and all we have left to do is photograph, renovate and watch where all this may be leading us throughout time.
 
Five years have passed since the previous album “The Millennium Album” was published. We wanted to see what has changed and indeed received a totally different album of pictures
 
This initiative cost us many hours of work. The production of the album took a long time, sometimes we worked until exhaustion, however the satisfaction received from the end result, surely overshadows all the obstacles that we went through.
 
I would like to take this opportunity and thank from the bottom of my heart, each and every photographer who took part in this project, and to all those who assisted in bringing together this significant work. I especially would like to thank my friend and co-producer of this album, David Gary and my wife Nitza Blech, whom without her we would not have been able to produce such a complex project.