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Whether we like it or not, the advent of the digital age of photography has irreversibly changed our lives. According to Samsung, 2.5 billion people around the world take pictures every day. Every minute, more than 200,000 photos are uploaded to Facebook and, with continuing advances in technology, newsworthy events can be instantaneously captured and shared across the world via a multitude of social media platforms using the simplest camera or phone.
The popularity of mass consumer technology has, at the same time, created a surge of enthusiasm for the days when photography was an altogether more complicated affair. In Barcelona, one particular group with a passion for the printed photo has taken things offline and begun to exchange printed photos in person, whether they be analogue, digital or Polaroid.
Picsharing, created in September 2012, is the brainchild of Elena Panzetta, an Italian cultural producer whose background is in communications. Her love of photography led her to create the group, which aims to counter the oversaturation of photography in the virtual world.
Panzetta’s goal was to create a social environment where people can interact and physically exchange photos, a place where like-minded people appreciate the intrinsic value of having a real photo in their hands. “In the climate of digital photography, the idea of continually pointing and shooting means that the reflectionist ideals of photography are lost. Many photographers still practise artistic photography, which relies on the concept of picking your moments carefully. This is where the true art of photography lies.”
The initial idea was simply to bring photographers together, to share their mutual passion for the printed image. However, Picsharing has grown exponentially from its beginnings as an image exchange event to become a photographic exhibition, which now includes interviews and presentations from well-known figures in the art and photojournalism worlds.
Photographers are invited via the website and social media pages to meet in a gallery or art space, where they can share ideas and exchange photographs. They bring printed photographs that are significant to them and that they wish to exchange. The photo does not need to be of a professional standard, and there are no limitations on the size or type of image, or even the technique used. The only requirements are that the picture should not be a photocopy, a postcard or an under or overexposed image.
The photographs are collected by designer and Picsharing collaborator Daniel Freire Figueiredo and presented as a wall mosaic of images. Each participant (or ‘Picsharer’) is assigned a number and they then exchange and share photos from the wall. “This idea of exchanging images harks back to childhood when we collected and traded stickers and collection cards,” said Panzetta.
A hashtag has been set up to follow the story of a photo once it has been exchanged: through #lanuevavidadetufoto, photographers can follow their photo’s new existence, both off and online.
In future editions of the event, Picsharers will be invited to present the story behind their photo to add another dimension to the image. “Many of the photographers document the details of the photo on the back to give a glimpse into the photograph’s story,” said Panzetta.
Previous editions of Picsharing have included Kike del Olmo, the author of Barcelona sin filtro (2013), who presented his reflections on Barcelona and the daily lives of its inhabitants via street photography. He often presents a darker side of the city, far from the cheerful images of holiday brochures and music videos.
Two well-known photojournalists from the World Press Forum, Oscar Dhooge and Sandro Gordo, presented a project entitled Raramente únicas (Strangely unique)—a photo documentary which reflects on the struggle of families of children affected by rare diseases. Similarly, Davide Camesasca, the Spanish delegate for ‘Shoot 4 Change’, showed his work for the non-profit organisation, which is made up of photographers, designers and artists who shoot humanitarian reportages for NGOs.
Other locals that have exhibited their work include photojournalist Stefano Buonamici, whose photographs centred on the code of ethics in photography, and artist Blanca Viñas whose project focused on the beauty of imperfection in an anti-aircraft bunker in Poblenou. Blanca explores the art of double exposure, mainly using Russian or British cameras made in the 1950s.
Picsharing is a way to keep the passion and intrigue of the physical photo alive, treasuring something real rather than a fleeting glimpse of a digital image in social networks. The very affirmation of day-to-day human existence lives in photography and the popularity and growth of Picsharing is testament to this.
PHOTOGRAPHY CLASSES IN BARCELONA
Grisart. Méndez Núñez 14.
Metro: Arc de Triomf (L1), Urquinaona (L1, L4)
This international photography school offers beginners three-month courses, as well as advanced courses, starting in January 2016 and again in April 2016.
DateCuenta at Centre Cívic Barceloneta. Conreria 1-9
Metro: Barceloneta (L4)
This photography school has been running for five years and offers a number of affordable courses for different levels. Class sizes are small.
Institut d’Estudis Fotografics de Catalunya. Compte d’Urgell 187.
Metro: Hospital Clínic (L5)
Offering from beginner to professional classes, this photography school has classes starting in October, February and May.
Idep Barcelona. Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 461
Metro: Rocafort (L1)
Idep offers a diploma in photography and contemporary creation, as well as more advanced masters courses in photography retouching, fashion photography and more.
Escola Massana. Hospital 56.
Metro: Liceu (L3)
Photography classes start on November 13th with 60 hours of classes in total. Other artistic courses are also available at this centre of art and design.
This company offers morning, afternoon and evening photography tours of Barcelona throughout the year as well as photography workshops.