What’s Next for Photography?

The Future of Photography Museum Amsterdam (FOAM) recently celebrated its 10th anniversary with an exhibit and series of activities reflecting upon the future of our craft. The organization’s mission is to enable people throughout the world to experience and enjoy photography—whether it's at their museum in Amsterdam, on their website (www.foam.org), or via their internationally distributed magazine.

FOAM is for photographers, picture editors, designers and anyone with a passion for photography. To pursue their anniversary quest into the future, FOAM posed the question “What’s Next” to a panel of imaging experts. Clearly the process of creating still photographs has evolved dramatically over the past 20 years, and the recent digitization of the medium has altered not only how we capture images, but how we process, share, view, and archive them as well.

Typically, when we discuss the future imaging, the conversation invariably turns to new or predicted innovations in technology. But FOAM’s question “What’s Next?” was based upon the premise that the future of photography is inextricably intertwined with the future of our visually oriented society in which everyone with a smartphone can be a “photographer”—sharing his or her experiences in real time via social media and online communities.

The What’s Next?” journey explores how photographs have “evolved from a tangible, paper-based object with a number of physical and chemical characteristics” into more ephemeral objects that question the nature of what we call a “photographer.” Other interesting explorations include how the visual landscape of our technology-driven society impacts our behavior, and how the nature of today’s electronic images influences the way contemporary museums and galleries operate.

I encourage everyone to spend some time on the FOAM website, but wait until you have a quiet moment because there’s a lot to explore.