Research Project Proposal

Original Proposal (9th January 2014)

Paradigm Shift in Photography
(Is the digital revolution a threat to photography?)

Symposium presentation with accompanying slideshow illustrating key points of the project. I am considering creative use of text and images (in response to my speech) by producing appropriate material.

This project will attempt to prove that the major impact on photography because of the digital technologies evolution is causing a transformation of the medium and not signalling its end.

When I started this course I was confronted with a question I struggled to understand. Whether photography’s new nature meant the end of the previous, and consequently the end of the photographer.
Even though digital technology democratised the medium, it brought major changes in the ways we communicate. “It offered a different perspective, of an otherwise hidden dimension of reality.” (A. Griscom).
By using such theories (Kuhn, Mcluhan) I will prove that photography is an evolutionary medium. Although the impact of digital technology upon the medium brought changes to its very nature, it’s not the first time it happens. (threat)
It has been a great question of mine for a long time. I have answered these questions in concern, but given the chance I would like to illustrate the simplicity of the concept. Issues like this usually generate fear of what’s to come and subsequently rejection of certain ideas.
Since media are extensions of man, and while we increasingly engage with electronic media and interact through them, there will be a point in time were living without them will be unimaginable and almost impossible. (i.e. electricity). I am convinced that photography is not dead. Through understanding the operating principles underlying the old and new media puts me in a unique position for discourse.

Definition of Paradigm Shift. (Thomas Kuhn)
Paradigm shift when applied to media. (Marshall Mcluhan)
Is there a paradigm shift in photography?
Photography as an evolutionary medium (transformation).
Previous changes in the photographic medium.
New applications in digital era. (Fred Ritchin, Martin Lister)

I am mostly utilising medium analysis and communication discourse through academic papers and “grey literature”. I am using books, subject magazines, academic journals, online audio and video interviews and articles, possibly of authority to my subject. My own experience and interpretation is forming the basis of this exploration.

After a preliminary research I realised that all the information I needed for this project can be found either in the library or online. Concerning the books I have already bought some of the ones required and the rest are loaned through the university library. I have access to many journals due to my student/staff status of an academic institution. Furthermore, I will be searching for appropriate sources in open-access journals, which tend to be contemporary. I have familiarised myself with most of the interviews so far, which will make the extraction of relevant information more convenient. For all the reasons mentioned I have decided I will not need primary research.

I am expecting to find people arguing the death of photography together with the profession. There is a lot of scepticism on the future of photography and the association by nature with other media. I am also expecting to find supporting arguments on evolutionary nature of the medium.

I am organising the sources according to which part of the presentation will be used. These categories are more or less the key ideas of the project. I will utilise methods demonstrated in class to go through the books and journals.

before January 2014

accumulation of relevant sources from books:
Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man
After Photography
Bending The Frame

January 2014 – February 25th

week 1-2: continuation of source acquisition (books, journals, articles, audio/video)
week 3: analysis and categorisation of material gathered
week 4: write essay for presentation / design visual support of my arguments
week 5: finish-up presentation with slideshow
week 6: rehearse (individually / in front of an audience)


Kuhn, T. (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Mcluhan, M. (1964) Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. London: Routledge

Berger, J. (1972) Ways of Seeing. London: BBC, Penguin

Sontag, S. (1978) On Photography. London: Allen Lane

Peterson, N. (1980) Photographic Art: Media and Disclosure. Michigan: UMI Research Press

Griscom, A. (1996) Trends of Anarchy and Hierarchy: Comparing the Cultural Repercussions of Print and Digital Media. [online] Thesis (Honors). Rhode Island: Brown University <> [09 January 2014]

Manovich, L. (2001) The Language of New Media. Cambridge, Mass. ; London: MIT Press

Briot, A. (2006) Paradigm Shift: The Transition from Chemical to Digital Photography [online] available from [09 January 2014]

Benjamin, W. (2008) The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. London: Penguin

Ritchin, F. (2009) After Photography. New York; London: W.W. Norton

Lister, M. (2011) ‘Photography In The Age Of Electronic Imaging’ in The New Media and Technocultures Reader. ed. by Giddings, S., Lister, M. Abingdon ; New York: Routledge

World Photography Organisation (2012) PhotoTALK with Jonathan Worth [online] available from [09 January 2014]

Ritchin, F. (2013) Bending The Frame. New York: Aperture

Butet-Roch, L. (2013) A meta-narrative. British Journal of Photography, Volume 160, Issue No 7184, 75-77

Worth, J. (2013) Fred Ritchin Interview on Bending the Frame [online] available from [09 January 2014]

Worth, J. (2013) Stephen Mayes, Fred Ritchin and Jonathan Worth in conversation [online] available from [09 January 2014]

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