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Dublin: 9°C Thursday 6 May 2021

Ireland in a snapshot: The transformation of photography in the digital age

Each week, photographer and filmmaker Donal Moloney shares a small piece of Ireland that reflects the bigger picture.

Donal Moloney

EACH WEEKEND, PHOTOGRAPHER and filmmaker Donal Moloney shares an image with TheJournal.ie audience which reflects a small piece of Ireland that resonates with us all. 

Donal writes:

“Photography isn’t dead, it just smells different.

I was asked last week how photography has changed over the last 25 years. It was a difficult question to answer without sounding a bit offensive about the modern photographer – which wasn’t my intention. 

But I had to be honest, and I rarely shy away from offering my observations.

Obviously the technology has changed a lot in the digital era, but so too has the status of the photographer as an artist.

There was a time when the photographer was a superhero, a magician and the envy of every man and woman with a healthy ego. Adams, Cartier-Bresson, Avedon were household names in the world of art, culture and beyond.

Nowadays of course everyone is a photographer and yesterday’s darkroom is today’s photoshop.

The digital era and smart phone technology have rendered us all equals – everyone has an opinion and everyone is right.

Websites and Facebook accounts with the words ‘Photography’ or ‘Photographer’ follow names by the truckload. The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker are now for hire and clever software will make the flattest or poorest lit images almost look acceptable.

The sale of light meters is non-existent and a filter is something you find on a cigarette – it’s all fixable in the app shed. One of the main priorities is to shoot with the post production in mind, the jigsaw will then be assembled and polished. 

The craft has changed entirely but thankfully three things remain that make the great stand out from the ordinary.

Lighting, composition and most importantly ‘an eye’. Combine all three of these things and you have magic.

Clontarf Sea Front Source: Donal Moloney

So is it a dying art? Well it’s scary the amount of kids coming out of college with their hard-earned photographic qualifications, to find that there is very little creative, paid work.

The market is fiercely competitive and I shudder to think what it would be like to be starting out now.

I packed in my previous job at the age of 27 and it took me many years to establish myself as a professional photographer.  Sadly photography may follow the path of journalism – where many graduates never actually get to use their degrees and instead the skills they learned become just another string on their bow, as they are forced to pursue careers elsewhere.

The art of photography is a hard earned, highly skilled talent that is honed and sharpened over decades of dedication. Trial and error, success and setback are the only way to learn. 

It’s truly an honour to have tread this path and to continue to explore this amazing craft. We never stop learning but having faith in the style, or technique we choose to shoot, is vital to being a happy photographer or storyteller.

The natural light and atmosphere at this time of the year can be sublime. Get out there and shoot.”

About the author:

Donal Moloney

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