Marco Bohr investigates 'hipster photography'
What is 'hipster photography'? Photographer Marco Bohr has written a blog post in which he attempts to define what he calls 'a new genre of photography which is apparently produced, promoted and disseminated by trend conscious people who are in contemporary visual culture referred to as hipsters'. In his post, Bohr argues there is a distinction between a photograph of hipsters and a photograph by hipsters. He aims to deconstruct these images flooding our visual culture and see beyond the thick black-framed glasses, quirky haircuts, and geeky watches.
|Bohr includes a handful of representative 'hipster' images in his blog, none of which are attributed or credited in any way. This particular (controversial - for obvious reasons) image is used in hundreds of blogs and articles discussing 'hipsters' but none of them (that we've been able to find) identify the original photographer.
UPDATE: Photographer is Danielle Yagodich - thanks JD Thomas for his detective work.
Bohr identifies common themes in so-called 'hipster' photographs - 'hipster photography depicts a curiously carefree world where people generally look happy joined by other people who look happy [...] this is presumably a fairly democratic world where beautiful people of any color, race or sex can be depicted in a photograph as long as they are also young.'
As such, Bohr argues, this genre of photography 'lends itself amazingly well to the advertisement of a product' since 'although hipsters [depict] a carefree world, in general they carefully pick or curate the consumable objects they wish to be surrounded by.' He explains 'consumption in a sense emphasizes that the subject is a living thing that needs nourishment or stimulation in order to carry on being cool. It reads as the fuel for coolness.'
In our caption to the image used above, we mention our failed attempt to find the original creator of the photograph, despite the fact that the picture has been used countless times in countless places on the Internet. This raises an interesting point about authorship and one which is frustratingly unaddressed in Bohr's analysis. Bohr mentions Tumblr in passing, but doesn't investigate one of its key legacies - the growing perception on the part of the online 'social' community that images are things to be used and can be freely shared without compensation or attribution.
Bohr says of hipster photographs that '[the] photograph must be shared in order to justify its existence and indeed the existence of the person taking the photograph' but we're not convinced about the second part of that sentence. If 'hipster' photography has any defining characteristics, surely one of them is that it prioritizes distribution and appropriation over authorship, or even longevity. But that's another question, for another day.
As always, let us know your thoughts in the comments.