Knowing Photography Now: the knowledge economy of photography in the twenty-first century’,

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The shift to digitality in the capture and viewing of images has had a profound influence on the student experience and engagement with the image. Consequently the technological tools that have transformed the capture and viewing of the image, and also the new image-based activities that are facilitated by these technologies, determine the knowledge base that students bring to the classroom.The photograph, as a glossy printed cultural document is an alien concept to today’s student for whom the capture and reading of the image is largely mediated through an electronic interface. Captured electronically and referenced in pixels, the image is downloaded and interpreted on display devices such as screens and interfaces instead of glossy photo-paper. The 21st century experience of the photograph has been transformed; the process of viewing, storing and using the photo image has become processual. The capture of images in digital cultures acknowledge functions including formatting and file sizes; storage of the images references activities aligned to downloading, filing and file sharing; viewing the image involves searching and tagging practices. As this knowledge bases changes, education practice that addresses images and image making needs to acknowledge the changing landscape in the cultural and social practices involved in the construction and reception of images. This paper aims to assess whether critical discussions about visual cultures associated with images and image making in the 21st century, are fully acknowledging the changes in the knowledge economy of photography. It argues that issues of access, production and consumption of images in the 21st century, call for new paradigms in theoretical approaches and teaching strategies in photography education that acknowledge the current statues of the image as a social and cultural document.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-183
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2009


  • photography
  • interactivity
  • new media


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