The democratization and socialization of photography has brought about one of the most fascinating changes in visual communication since man started smearing crude inks on the walls of caves. To really understand the full impact we have to go back a few years.
In the early days of photography cameras were huge, heavy boxes and photographic negatives were made of glass, which were heavy and difficult to transport. Taking a photograph of something was no small effort. Because of the time, effort and expense, photographers were pretty selective about the photos they took. When families decided to get their picture taken it cost a lot of money, at least in relative terms, and people dressed up for the occasion.
Over the years the cost of photography came down and the camera lens captured more of our ordinary lives and selves. By the time film started coming out in rolls mistakes were less costly in terms of effort and expense. Photographers discovered they could shoot first and check the results later. No more did people need to sit in wide-eyed immobility lest they blink during the shot. Now photographers could shoot dozens of frames from different angles, looking for just one unique view.
In the transition to digital even the meager expense of getting the film processed at a lab was no longer necessary. There was no technical art to worry about; taking pictures became as easy as pushing a button.
And did we ever start pushing that button. We took so many pictures people didn’t even want to bother carrying a camera, we wanted that camera to be part of our phone. Pretty soon the camera was part of every moment of everyone’s lives. The cave walls were replaced by the Facebook wall and the entire world could see a photo of what we had for lunch. We became bombarded with visual stimuli and at the same time how we as viewers valued that stimuli changed as well buy ig live views.
Now there has been a subtle but profound shift in photography. The question is no longer whether you can take compelling images, but whether you can make your images rise above a living visual flood.
Today eyes equal money and those with the ability to attract eyes to their images are the ones who can reap profits. Whether that attraction is through technical excellence and sophisticated photography skill or pure, dumb luck is no longer relevant, although one could argue that having the photographic skill raises your chances of getting that magnificent shot. Luck has a tendency to favor the skillful and prepared.