“Otherwise you’re just the button pusher”: Understanding changing structures of creativity in the commercial photography industry

Harper, Sharon P (2016) “Otherwise you’re just the button pusher”: Understanding changing structures of creativity in the commercial photography industry. In: MeCCSA 2017: Culture, Media, Equality and Freedom, 11-13 January 2017, University of Leeds. (Unpublished)

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Despite the common belief amongst commercial, commissioned photographers that creativity is at the heart of what they do, the notion of creative freedom is seldom attributed to their work by scholars but is rather seen as formulaic and prescribed. And yet, in a recent analysis of discussions held during a day symposium held in London, Photography: A Visual Language (March 2016), in which five panels of commercial, commissioned photographers had moderated, open discussions regarding their work and practice, perceived threats to their creative freedom in relation to their practice emerged as a dominant concern (Harper, under review). Unlike photojournalism and news media, where digitalisation has intensified and further problematized the issue of authenticity and images (Grayson 2015; Guerrero García and Palomo 2015; Nicey 2013; Palmer and Nicey 2012), digitalisation within commercial photography seems to have provoked deep thought and reassessment by photographers themselves of how visual expression is cached out in the commercial, commissioned context. Challenges faced by the publishing industry – shrinking readerships, the increased power of advertisers, competition with bloggers, changing audience engagement, the broadening of content platforms (Duffy 2014; Hall 2014; Viljakainen and Toivonen 2014; Doyle 2011; – have meant that these photographers have had to rethink their approach to the working avenues through which they visually create. In light of recent literature on creativity (egs. Forgeard and Kaufman 2016; Jones et. al. 2016; Dino 2015; Gilson 2015; Kaufman and Sternberg 2015; Freedman 2010; Dorst and Cross 2001) that sees creativity in relation to structural constraints, we can outline and develop an understanding of where and how photographic creative freedom is undergoing transformation in a shifting, digital, commercial context. This will help us to understand not only the commissioning and working process, but how this may affect creative decision-making.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Photography, creativity, creative control, commercial photography, creative freedom, editorial photography
Subjects: T Technology > TR Photography
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creative Arts
Research Priority Areas: Culture, Continuity, and Transformation
Creative Practice and Theory
Depositing User: Sharon Harper
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2017 15:16
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 09:23
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/4304

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