AUTHORSHIP and COLLABORATION

Updated: Feb 25, 2021

Although a photographer is normally considered as a sole author and as a sole owner of a taken photograph, there is more to the authorship, ownership and collaboration than it seems at the first glance.

‘Despite the fact that multiple individuals are involved in the practice of photography, its history and theory have been written as the story of single heroes’ (Azoulay 2016: 194).

Especially in portrait photography the collaboration between the person being photographed and the photographer is very essential. Sooner or later in their practice photographers need to collaborate with others, may it be the photographed person or a newspaper publisher who includes the photograph in the newspaper.

‘Photography cannot be reduced to a camera as an instrument in the hands of a single person; it is rather an apparatus that involves a more or less contingent group of participants (photographed persons, distributors, curators, etc.) as well as the state and the market’ (Azoulay 2016: 195).

This week our study group was asked to form smaller groups and collaborate on a micro project on a subject of our choice. I was a part of a group whose topic was Sheep’s Field of View. We discussed how much humans are used to see things from their perspective and were wondering what do other creatures actually see. We as a group produced an image that represents a landscape from a sheep’s point of view. The image was created from five different photographs. All of the group members provided at least one image of a sheep.


Fig. 1: Browne, Martyn, Saksens 2021. Sheep’s field of view


When looking at the final image, the viewer gets a sense of what a sheep could approximately see. Sheep are one of the animal species that have a peripheral vision between 270 and 320 degrees, while human field of view is approximately 155 degrees (Amelinckx 2017).


Fig. 2: Saksens 2020. Sheep’s pupil


Sheep have horizontal pupils that provide panoramic vision, while humans have round pupils. Sheep, as well as other pray animals need a wider field of view than other species simply because they need to be aware of predator animal presence in their surroundings.

This has led me to think about my own practice as well and about the vision of other animals. I was wondering what do dogs actually see. Up until recently it was widely accepted that dogs have a monochrome vision of black and white tones. However, recent studies show that dogs actually see some colors – yellow and blue tones, but not as bright as humans see the same tones (Meyers 2019). That means that dogs don’t see red and green tones at all.


Fig. 3: Saksens 2021. Human vision vs. dog vision


I recently took a photograph with a dog in a red Santa hat with a green background. If I was a dog who’s looking at the scene, I would be able to see a much less colorful picture than I am as a human.


Fig. 4: Saksens 2021. Cat playing with its owner


When it comes to my practice, I constantly collaborate not only with the photographed pets themselves, but also with the pet owners during the photo shoots. The owners are the ones who know their animal the best and they are usually well aware of how their pets are feeling during the photo shoot. When I take photographs while cats and dogs are engaging in a playful activity, it is their owners who are playing with animals, but who are never present in the photographs. When taking photographs of dogs, their owners are very much engaged in the activity, constantly giving orders to dogs to sit and look in a particular direction. There’s often an owner’s hand right above the camera with a dog treat in the hand.


LIST OF REFERENCES


AMELINCKX, Andrew. 2017. 6 Fun Facts About Sheep You might Not Know. Modern Farmer Media 2021 [online]. Available from https://modernfarmer.com/2017/12/6-facts-sheep-might-not-know/ [accessed 15 February 2021].

AZOULAY, Ariella. 2016. ‘Photography Consists of Collaboration: Susan Meiselas, Wendy Ewald, and Ariella Azoulay’. Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies, 31(191), 187-201.

MEYERS, Harriet. 2019. Are Dogs Color Blind? Side-By-Side Views. American Kennel Club [online]. Available at: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/are-dogs-color-blind/ [accessed 16 February 2021].


LIST OF FIGURES


Fig. 1: BROWNE, Michael, MARTYN, John, SAKSENS, Ruta. 2021. Sheep’s field of view. Private collection: Ruta Saksens

Fig. 2: SAKSENS, Ruta. 2020. Sheep’s pupil. Private collection: Ruta Saksens

Fig. 3: SAKSENS, Ruta. 2021. Human vision vs. dog vision. Private collection: Ruta Saksens

Fig. 4: SAKSENS, Ruta. 2021. Cat playing with its owner. Private collection: Ruta Saksens

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