What happens now to the iconic image?

With the digital image becoming ubiquitous in our daily lives, we need to ask ourselves, what happens to the iconic image when we have so many to choose from?

I think the idea of just capturing is losing significance, and it is shifting towards the sharing and editing.

‘We need to edit much more than before. For instance, if you see how wars were photographed before phones, cameras and digital photography, like the Vietnam War, some pictures instantly come to mind; the girl running, covered in napalm. When we didn’t have a mass of images, we had more iconic images to talk about. Now if I tell you about 9/11, there is no iconic image; there’s a huge amount of images, but between each other, they speak about one moment in history. The idea of the iconic image is shifting. As we’re facing many images talking about the same thing, we have to learn how to manage all these images. It’s not just a problem for photographers, but all of society. If we are facing a tsunami of images every day, we have to learn how to understand them, edit them, sequence them, give them meaning and put them in different contexts. So for you, photography is moving much towards editing?
We’re moving more towards editing, processing and sharing. If you look at the short history of digital images, the first photo that was uploaded to the internet was a Photoshop disaster; it became a meme. From the very first picture, the important aspect wasn’t the image itself, but how it was done, what the purpose of it was, so I think we’re trying to find a balance between taking the photo, processing it – which includes editing – then sharing it. There are many bad photos that succeeded because they arrived at the place they had to be, so I would say just capturing is losing importance, so processing and sharing is winning the battle.’ Jon Uriarte in conversation with Vice Magazine