It wasn’t that long ago that a camera was only accessible to the skilled, highly-trained few. Advances in technology, and specifically the smartphone, however means now almost everyone is armed with a camera 100 times more powerful in their pocket. This trend has created a desire to document and share every facet of life – every moment that it happens. But what has this done to the way we perceive and enjoy photography?
“People are taking lots of pictures but nobody’s looking at them.” Eammon McCabe, Guardian Photographer
The problem with photos taken by a smartphone is that they too easily get ‘lost’ amongst thousands of other pictures, texts, emails and tweets. Somehow, this leads to a devalued perception of photographs – making pictures seem temporary and disposable.
Psychologists take this point a step further, arguing that our mindless ‘snap-happy’ approach takes people away from their experiences. Linda Henkel of Fairfield University argues ‘counting on the camera to record the event and thus not needing to attend to it full themselves can have a negative impact on how well they remember their experiences”.
“Photography has never been more popular, but it’s getting destroyed” Antonio Olmos
Photographer Eammonn McCabe agrees. “It’s a scattergun approach. You snap away thinking one of these shots will work, rather than concentrate on capturing the image.” He goes on to comment “I don’t think photography’s dead, it’s just become lazy. People are taking lots of pictures but nobody’s looking at them.”
But it mustn’t be forgotten technological advances work to our advantage too. It allows professionals and amateurs alike to easily share their work and tell their stories in engaging, innovative ways.
“Re-frame what you do as a photographer. Providing an experience and doing something different for your clients will help you stand out in the crowded market” Bryan Caporicci
And it’s story telling that is at the heart of a successful photographer in this digital age. These days, a good photographer needs to create an entire ‘experience’. It is no longer enough to take good photographs, or even edit and retouch them beautifully, as now everyone has access to free software and websites to do this themselves.
Bryan Caporicii explains “You must find a way to separate what you do from what the average person can do. And this is no longer just a matter of doing it better. It’s a matter of doing it different.” He goes on to illustrate his point. “You could be an event planner for groups of friends who want to experience a different “night out”. You could plan mini-events for groups of friends that they plan and look forward to, such as a portrait party. You could provide hair and make-up, have the party catered and make it all about having a good time. People would hire you as something fun to do with their friends and to feel pampered. The pictures would be a byproduct.
Being a visual storyteller….providing an experience and doing something different for your clients will help you stand out in the crowded market, which in turn increases the perceived value of what you do. The experience comes first – the pictures are simply a byproduct of the experience. This is the way to win the war on the smartphone.
Bryan Caporicii sums up. “Start strong. Focus on the experience. Finish Strong. Be different.”