One pertinent benefit of digital photography is accessibility. Digital photography (especially the handheld or point and shoot camera) is meant to be intuitive, easy to use and immediate. With the Auto function, the aesthetics of the photograph is determined by the camera – all the user needs to be in charge of is the composition. Especially with mobile cameras, photographs can be taken anywhere, at any time, without a device dedicated to only photography.
This accessibility opens up photography to the layman. The lower literacy levels of digital photography as compared to analog photography also mean the parameters of what a ‘photographer’ means slowly disintegrates. Photojournalism is flourishing/disintegrating due to this newfound accessibility. A protester for example, carrying about a mobile phone with a camera, takes photographs of a peaceful protest in contrast to the media’s portrayal of the protest as a riot. Different perspectives of a situation become available as cameras become more accessible.
In a way, the accessibility of digital photography also empowers the audience. The audience has an active role – they are also the creators of information and beauty, they become the photojournalists and their lives become the subject of their own photography. This audience also turns into the dictator of some of the content they consume.
What will the audience do with this transfer of authorship?
In the case of the second photograph – Ai Wei Wei capturing his detainment in the lift – mobile photography has enabled him to record a moment otherwise evidence-less.