- Jon Longworth
The Observation of Change In Photography
Out of all the themes that present themselves within the medium of photography, none make themselves more known than the concept of change. It feeds into almost every aspect of photographs. Whilst Photography is scientifically a capturing of light, its conceptually the observation of change. The change of culture, of life, of structures. We as photographers are merely capturing an instance in which that object is changing.
This belief made itself known during one of my own projects, titled 'Slow Burn'. I went into the project thinking that I was observing how my family was adapting to the decline of my grandmothers mental state as she slipped into dementia, but instead I came out of the project with a completely different mindset on what the project was about. I anticipated that I would be photographing how people were coping with that mental decline, but when I got there I realised that everyone had already adapted to it and it was us as outsiders that were the ones adapting to the change in this situation. The realisation that came from this was that change as a concept is not something that is exclusive to certain people or groups. It is omnipresent. It is constant and it is everywhere. I expected to photograph the change within them as a family only to photograph my own coping to a situation.
Once the realisation of that presence is made aware, my photos from that point on felt like they were different. They weren't attempting to impose any larger than life concepts upon the reader, they merely moved to accepting that are merely fuel in the engine of change. The world moves on with or without us. So as photographers, it is our part to document this flux in the flow of time. This feels like it has delved into the realms of cosmic horror. Something that is so larger than everyone it almost feels incomprehensible if you think about it for too long. If you leave it to stew for too long, you can slip into that pit of existentialism, or you can accept that that is okay. I think that photography accepts that inevitability and just chooses to document the forms that it takes.
In terms of where I intend to bring this area of discussion in the future, that's yet to be known. Like I previously stated, change is something that manifests itself into every crevice of our world, so to photograph it is to discover where it has shown itself. The thing that makes it so interesting as well is that whilst there are physical changes, like construction and deconstruction, growth and decomposition, life and death, there are also changes that emotional. Maturity, challenging of world views, love and loss. It's all conceptual, so to find it it's something that you really need to look for but regardless it is there.
I think this is why the discussion of change in photography is such an interesting region to photograph. It really is a limitless topic of conversation, and I think that that is something that we as photographers want: the ability to photograph new and fresh content for as long as we physically can. And with change, it never ends, everything is constantly in flux, meaning that there is always something to discuss within our work.