Florian Unterfrauner, MA


Born in Bozen/Bolzano (Italy), Florian Unterfrauner studied History and Politics at the University of Freiburg (Germany). In his BA thesis, he analyzed the perception of the Non-Alignment Movement in West- and East German newspapers. In 2013, he enrolled in the MA African Studies program at the University of Basel. In 2014/15, Florian spent an exchange year at Waseda University in Tokyo (Japan), where he focused on Afro-Japanese relations during the Cold War.

MA Thesis

Living with Change – Adaptation Strategies of Cameroonian Studio Photographers in the Face of New Technologies

For his MA thesis, Florian participated in a field trip to Yaoundé and Douala (Cameroon) together with Dr. Jürg Schneider and Rosario Mazuela. In his MA thesis, he examined the influence of technological change on Cameroonian studio photographers.
Photography is everywhere and most importantly: everyone can take a picture. With technologies becoming easily accessible and easier to use, the profession of the studio photographer is in serious jeopardy. Or is it not?
The thesis is based on eleven interviews conducted with photographers in both Yaoundé and Douala in February 2016. The interviews show two different paths taken by studio photographers in Cameroon in order to adjust to technological change.
In general, all interviewees condemned the decline of photography as a skill and the lack of public appreciation towards their profession, due to the competition of street photographers. However, older and younger photographers differ in the way how they approach their changing environment. Older photographers are mainly active in the field of ID pictures and are therefore affected more severely by the much cheaper competition of street photographers. To cope with the situation, older photographers created a union to give voice to their needs and to re-establish the image of a respected profession.
Younger photographers are quite distinct from older photographers. In contrast to older photographers, their younger colleagues use the internet on a daily basis to present themselves, to interact with clients and to learn about new trends in photography. Furthermore, younger photographers specialized on well-paying clients such as companies or wedding parties.
To sum up, there has been a change in photography. New camera technologies and the internet have changed how pictures are taken, how the photographer interacts with his clients and how he manages his business. This process carries both risks and opportunities for studio photographers competing in today’s market.