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Summary of Shove: Breaking Down Digital Photography

Shove et al. in 2007 conducted a study with nine one-to-one interviews of amateur photographers, a local camera club, a focus group and workshop. Before diving into the analysis, they outlined three elements of photography: practitioners, participation and material. They also differentiated “early photography”, “popular photography”, “digital photography”, giving a brief history of “early photography and introduction on Bourdieu’s social theory on photography.

Going Digital: They contrast two photographers, showing technological assemblies are dynamic processes and form forms of feedback.

Doing Digital Photography: From breaking into digital photography with a manual to teenagers and children actually taking pictures, this section explores some practices of “Doing Digital photography”, and how a familiar repertoire of family events create a genre of photography.

Manipulating Digital Photography: This part highlights how the advancement in technology has created the dilemma for serious photographers: that certain software that allow modifying photos on one hand enhances photos, but becomes a form of cheating against photographers in dark rooms.

Organizing, Sharing and Viewing Digital Images: Shove et al. demonstrates how technology brings new routines for the post work of capturing. They also show the material difference, from physical albums on a shelf to virtual ones on a laptop.

Innovations in Photographic Practice: In this last section, we can see classifications of certain cameras for certain events, or when neither camera phones nor DSLRs are used, a single-used camera is still ideal. We also see the echo of Bourdieu that photography is not only individual habits but cumulative for the practice as a whole, varying on institutional contexts. They exist when regularly reproduced and enacted.

All in all, they found that 1. Careers of individual practitioners matter for the trajectories of their practices. 2. Technology also configures the practices into which consumers are drawn and from which they drop out. 3. Digital technologies were drawn into and defined by a framework of expectations and conventions established by a necessary practice-as-entity.


One thought on “Summary of Shove: Breaking Down Digital Photography

  1. It is interesting to read this piece written in 2007, and to think of all the technological advancements that followed. The chapter did mention camera phones such as Samsung, but like it said, couldn’t predict what would come next in the future, how camera phones have become more ubiquitous than ordinary digital cameras. It did however take note that photography is social. As of now in 2015, photography has become an essential part of the social media phenomenon.


    Posted by airlieheung | February 22, 2015, 4:35 am

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