You might think the answer to question “What is a photograph?” is trivial. Listen to our conversation with professional photographer and innovative educator Jonathan Worth to appreciate not only the difference between the digital image and the photography, but also an interesting perspective on what photography is in 2024, given the influece of not only artificial intelligence, but also the commons use of the devices Jonathan refers to as the “slab in your hand.”
Learn more about Jonathan’s formative years as a student of photography at University of Derby, mentorships with professionals, developing his own career creating images used for celebrities on magazine covers, an influential photo shoot with Cory Doctorow, and a coming to understanding of the futility of creating scarcity on the web taught to him by a 14 year old.
You will also appreciate listening to Jonathan’s thoughtful and fresh approach to his current teaching of traditional, fashion, and sports photography classes at Nottingham Trent University. And stay for his fresh perspective on what artificial intelligence has to offer now and in the future.
The episode features an in-depth conversation between Jonathan Worth, a photographer and educator, and Alan about the evolution of photography, the changes brought about by digital technologies, and the cultural implications of these changes. Jonathan shares his perspective on the difference between a photograph and an image, the use of AI in photography, the future of image-making, and the importance of mastering both technical and conceptual aspects of photography in education. The conversation also delves into the responsibility and ethics of photography and Jonathan’s experience in teaching film and darkroom photography. Towards the end, they discuss the new sports photography course Jonathan is developing, which focuses on experiential, immersive media.
- Introduction: Reflections on Photography
- Jonathan’s Journey: From Professional Photography To Educator
- Conversation: Old vs. New Learning Approaches in Photography
- Jonathan’s Personal Encounters and Anecdotes
- Implications of Copyright in Digital Photography
- Mentorship and Co-learning In The Field of Photography
- What exactly defines a ‘Photograph’ in the era of AI?
- Exploring the Future: The New Sports Photography Course
- Conclusion and End Notes
Additional Links and Quotes for Episode 63
So it’s a bit of Marshall McLuhan’s rear view mirror as far as technology goes, you know, so always look in the rear view mirror. And as we try to describe something in terms of something old, we really limit the potential of something new. Obviously we think of examples like a camera, which used to be a camera obscura, which actually used to be a room, which then became this little box, which was like a room, a darkened box.
And now we carry this thing around this little sort of mindless slab [holds up a mobile phome]. This is our camera now. And of course it’s not a supercomputer. I think we need to push on past our expectations for AI if we’re only going to think of them in terms of that darkroom process that I described earlier on.
But here’s something I think is really cool. So if photography broke away from painting, which it did, and we know that through people like the f/64 group, when it stopped trying to be like crappy paintings and started to try and be really sharp, beautiful images, that it really established itself.Jonathan Worth on looking back and forward in photography
- University of Derby Photography
- John Blakemore (photographer)
- Steve Pyke (photographer)
- David Campbell (photographer)
- Cory Doctorow (Author and activist)
- From Closed to Open Photographer, Teacher, Potential Remixee (Heath Ledger photo story)
- The Crack in the Rear View Mirror (Marshall McLuhan)
- f/64 Group (Wikipedia)
- Photography in the Age of Artificial Intelligence ( by Fred Ritchin, Vogue)
- Ways of Seeing (John Berger)
- Demosaicing (Wikipedia)
- Juergen Teller (photographer)
- Ansel Adams Zone System (Wikipedia)
- Ian Campbell Cole (Instragram)
- Campbell Cole (product design)
- Phonar (Photography + Narrative open course at Coventry University)
- Red Bull Mega Swing (advertisement video)
- Nottingham Trent University
If I think about young people now, the ones that come through that we teach, there are profound differences between them and me at their age and subsequently what I’ve grown into.
So if I think about my formative years generally, they were spent watching TV. And that’s the very third person way of seeing the world. It makes someone who is patient enough to watch adverts, for example, right? So, the young people that are coming through now, they have spent their formative years playing video games, being, you know, the heroes of their own story.
They don’t understand video. They don’t understand adverts, right? That’s the other hilarious thing is “why are you watching adverts? ” So there is something quite profound.
What that means is that I think their media consumption is, there’s gonna be a drive or an openness to have first person media consumption. I think that means literally for the photographer, it means of course they would stand pitch side and make pictures of the game, but I think they will also make pictures in game as well.Jonathan Worth on teaching sports photography
Our open licensed music for this episode is a track called Picture it all (Instrumental) by Lorenzo’s Music licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 International License. Like most of our intro music, it is from the Free Music Archive (see our full FMA playlist).
This was another episode we are recording on the web in Squadcast. This is part of the Descript platform for AI enabled transcribing and editing audio in text– this has greatly enhanced our ability to produce our shows We have been exploring some of the other AI features in Descript, but our posts remain human authored unless indicated otherwise.