Recently I was asked a question by a Malaysian who had visited the Editorial Photography degree show at Brighton University UK: “What do landscapes and pictures of urban decay have to do with editorial?”
To try and answer, when we look at the very nature of photography, it is a mirror and at the same time, a window; a look within and an external glance. The word editorial can be explained as ‘expressing the opinions of its owner or maker.’ So putting the two together; Editorial and Photography, can mean we can conceptualise about anything in a photographic form, as long as we are expressing our opinions, it can still be ‘editorial,’ a look, a story, a mood of ourselves and of our world.
Urban decay is a reflection of our societies, of how we are living indeed a metaphor into our lives or how we are treating the world. We could look at it with an even deeper meaning of a look to inside our bodies with meanings of what modern society brings to that.
Landscapes remain encoded with the language of painting, however more often than not the land today is manufactured by human activity and thus again is telling a story of our societies. For a prime example of this we only need to look at Martin Parr’s ‘New Brighton,’ made in 1984. Landscapes today are more often than not made in reference to what the land signifies in a cultural context and not necessarily a natural context such as in the work of Ansel Adams.
Today I don’t think we need to pigeon hole our genres of photography so much, as they seem to criss-cross over like colourful threads, and why not?
Maybe in the West photographers have found more confidence in their practise to experiment with ideas and push boundaries, to have faith in their voice and take joy in taking a leap forward sometimes into the unknown of how their work will be received.
We have to read the symbolic aspects of the image not just the literal; Diane Arbus called it “The endlessly seductive puzzle of sight.”
If we look at the work of Lee Friedlander, it goes so much further than the image itself, posing larger statements about contemporary America. Irvin Penn’s images transformed the most banal of objects into something different even something extraordinary.
So as far as ‘editorial’ and what it might mean, maybe we have to open our hearts and minds to different ways of seeing, and how we voice our opinions through a photographic image.
The image above was taken whilst studying at Brighton University and is titled ‘Erode.’