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Response: Recapitulating the Public Dimensions of Digital Photographyand the Web

Amparo Lasen and Edgar Gomez-Cruz explore the public/private configurations of digital photography and the web in “Digital Photography and Picture Sharing: Redefining the Public/Private Divide,” commenting on the emergence of sharing intimate photos online through the development of digital photography. Lasen and Cruz state that “these changes have happened due to the possibility of controlling the process of ‘development’ of the images” (206). Another dimension to this development is that of editing and selection;What determines the type of picture people choose to share? Lasen and Cruz focus on the self-portrait, discussing “aspects of the practice and use of self-portraits, especially those involving intimate contexts, nudity, or sexuality, and their public exposure in different websites,” claiming that “these practices challenge the modern view of sexuality as the ultimate private domains and give clues about an ongoing transformation of the concept of intimacy” (206). While I agree with the transforming notions of intimacy, I believe online sharing of sexually explicit photos does not make the body any less private. If anything, with the potential for unwanted web distribution, society ought to be more aware of the potential consequences of sharing. The possibilities for anonymity are also a factor in the recapitulation of private images in public spheres. Lasen and Cruz discuss emergent “exhibitionist” tendencies with online sharing, but fail to consider the implications of editing tools on sharing. With cropping, for example, one can share a sexually suggestive photo without being identified.

Another interesting concept Lasen and Cruz address is the affordance of various digital devices to types of pictures, stating that “the kind of device used to take pictures,camera phone or different kind of digital cameras, seem to play a role as well in these performances”(208). As an owner of various digital photography devices, I agree that each device facilitates a particular “creative type” in my photographic subject. With my DSLR, I tend to take “staged” photographs, whereas with my smartphone, I take impromptu photos. My mobile pictures are also taken with the impositions of the social service to which I wish to upload. Instagram,for example, has specific size and content constraints; the space to which pictures are uploaded, therefore, is also a factor in the kinds of pictures taken. Editing is also a key component of sharing; with unlimited editing possibilities and desires for online popularity, there exists a pressure to capture an “intriguing” photo and one edited under a unique lens.

Works Cited

Lasen, Amparo, and Edgar Gomez-Cruz. “Digital Photography and Picture Sharing: Redefining the Public/Private Divide.”  (2009): 205-215. Web. 09 Mar. 2013


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