The Rise of Technology: The Snapper vs. The Photographer

The Snapper vs. The Photographer

The Snapper             vs.       The Photographer

By far, my favorite form of social media is Instagram. In my free time, I’m usually multitasking, and it’s involved a good 80% of the time.  I love going through peoples photos, as I see photography as the best form of personal expression. When I’m on Instagram, though, it’s clear to see the difference between who I refer to as ‘the snapper’, and the photographer. The snapper is one who literally snaps a picture; they don’t put too much thought into the composition in the way of framing or lighting, as an example. The photographer, on the other hand, is the one who takes all of these elements into consideration, even before taking a single shot. Then, if that shot doesn’t meet their expectation, they’ll shoot it over again.  How accurately a shot is taken is based on how much experience and skill one has.

In Andrew Ross book, Nice Work If You Can Get It: Life and Labor in Precarious Times, he suggests that as technology begins to take over, especially in the entertainment industry, the ‘stratification of creative labor’ (177) becomes all the more apparent.  Born then, is the above-the-line worker, comprised of performers, directors and writers and the below-the-line worker, which are made up of occupations such as technicians, set designers, sound engineers, grips and cinematographers.  Due to this rise in technology, ‘below-the-line technician employees have been hit hard by a combination of de-skilling from new technologies and runway production’ (177).  In other words, technology is taking over the work, and taking away the skills and experience of the worker in the industry, making the below-the-line worker appear as the ‘snapper’ in my example above. The below-the-line worker in the industry, who has a strong variety of skill sets and creative experience, is now seen as the amateur in the face of technology. That makes technology the professional, ultimately making the livelihood of the below-the-line worker incredibly difficult.

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Importance of the Visuals in Cry, Baby

After reading this, as well as Littleton’s TV on Strike, it got me thinking:  Where does this leave the below-the-line worker in terms of benefits in the industry? Shouldn’t they get credit as well? The writers went on strike in 2007-08 to get residuals from production companies that were distributing and streaming their content, but since the material isn’t the below-the-line workers, do they gain nothing from materials being pirated or streamed?  This is concerning, especially when I saw that the cinematographer was put under this category of below-the-line workers.  At one point in my college career, I made it my goal to be a cinematographer because I wanted to be the one who gave life to the work; in my opinion, visuals are key to a successful film. A film can still be a film without sound, but without visuals, what is a film? I tried to watch my film Cry, Baby just listening to the sound, and by doing so, I ultimately ended up answering my own question: not only is the hierarchy of labor importance in the industry, as well as in other sectors of the work force, skewed, but as Ross puts it, ‘the development of the new technologies has only accentuated the uneven distribution of income’ (178).


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