COMM3840: Themes in Contemporary Photography Blog Introduction

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Welcome to my Yarn!
For my introduction I would like to welcome you to my blog and more specifically how I'd like to start my journey to the creation of my five photographs for the module. For Themes in Contemporary Photography, my initial interest lies with how young adults in today's society portray themselves over social media - more specifically Instagram. The interest began when I was concerned with how a single person can redefine their persona through careful selection of photographs, where they can create a new 'them' which isn't necessarily how they are in the real world. A person can live their 'fantasy self' through photographic selection, location, clothing, editing, filters etc and document them on mediums such as Instagram which is why I would like to explore this more in depth as the journey will be very telling of the young adults of today and the outcome could reveal a debate on why this is necessary.


Recently there has been a very interesting story supporting the ideology of the 'ideal self' portrayed on social media. Essena O'Neill, an Australian teenager with over half a million followers on Instagram, confessed how manipulative Instagram is as she explains how the social media "consumed" her. O'Neill was being payed up to $2,000 for posting photographs of her in exotic locations and looking beautiful whilst subliminally marketing products (clothes, make-up, shoes, hair products etc) when in reality it was staged and wasn't a true portrayal of herself or the life she leads. In a bid to change this, O'Neill deleted hundreds of images of the self being represented on her Instagram and edited the captions on the ones that were kept to truthful statements. One of the Instagram uploads of O'Neill in a summery garden dressed in a bikini originally captioned 'Things are getting pretty wild at my house. Maths and English in the sun' was then truthfully expressed as being a staged photoshoot which was re-captioned to 'If you find yourself looking at "Instagram Girls" and wishing your life was theirs... Realise you only see what they want. If they tag a company 99% of the time it is paid.' O'Neill continues with the bold statement that there is 'no purpose in a forced smile, tiny clothes and being paid to look pretty. We are a generation told to consume and consume, with no thought of where it all comes from and where it all goes'. I believe Essena O'Neill's willingness to talk about this is important because it shows how Instagram is not real life, it is a way of manipulating yourself to seem however you want to be seen as - it is not necessarily representing the truth. Studying O'Neill's story has given me a core to my project as it is the message I want to display in my photographs.

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