Has Social Media Helped or Hurt the Photography Industry?
We live in a society of constant communication. We’re plugged in to everyone from our loved ones to celebrities broadcasting their day to day happenings in an unending stream of hashtags and filtered photographs.
Now that Instagram has joined society and decided to “screw the square,” let’s discuss the liberated rectangular elephant in the room: Has social media helped or hurt the photography industry?
10. Information Overload
In a matter of seconds I can absorb what my best friend had for breakfast, what my mom’s dog did to the couch, and what my old college Computer Science class mate’s sister’s wedding looked like last weekend…
Users are constantly logging in and downloading their recent happenings for the world to see because that is now the “norm.”
The days of taking the time to edit your settings and painstakingly set up a shot to achieve just the right mood are behind us.
9. A World of Photographers
For better or for worse, these new apps have enabled us all be photographers. We take pictures at the beach, in the city or on a hike, can quickly slap on a pretty filter and share it with our audience.
This has taken the science and the art out of the craft of editing photos, and in turn has depreciated the value of quality photography.
8. More Concern on Likes / Retweets and Hearts than the Real Message
You post a picture on Instagram (and Twitter, and Facebook and…and… and…) that you are super proud of. A couple minutes go by and no one has liked it yet! Did you use the wrong hashtags, should you have tagged more people in it? Maybe your caption wasn’t clever enough!
“It seems these days folks are more focused on the response their photo invokes, than sharing the feeling they had when they took it.”
7. However Emotional Responses are Also Important
I remember the first time I saw the black and white photo of Half Dome taken by Ansel Adams. I was in high school photography class, we were learning how to develop the prints we had taken and the instructor was using one of his personal shots of half dome as an example. Although his shot was also beautiful, Ansel Adam’s was breathtaking. More so the work involved in capturing the shot. He didn’t walk up in front of it and take a quick selfie. He carried massive amount of gear with him to get the perfect shot.
I’ve yet to see an Instagram photo that takes my breath away.
6. Lower Standards for Quality
Since we are inundated with daily updates and photographs, the standard for quality is much lower. Pictures that turn out blurry or with someone’s eyes shut can be cleaned up with a quick filter or a graphic pasted on top of it. Or better yet, use an app where you can squeeze four photos in the same shot so maybe they won’t notice one of them is entirely out of focus.
Alternatively…..social media has:
5. Encouraged Creativity
As Smart Phone Technology continues to improve, the quality of the photos that are taken improve as well. And although it lacks any real talent to take photos with your phone, it does provide an opportunity for folks to harness their inner Ansel, and to get creative. People are excited to share their recent shots with their friends and family, which in turn encourages others to get out there and capture the moment.
4. Aided Businesses with Affordable Marketing
Instagram, Twitter and Facebook have provided affordable marketing tactics to small and large businesses. The ability to link each platform together and share photos and tweets to the masses works great for people who are just starting out and are trying to get a fan base, or companies with millions of followers already that are keeping them interested and involved in the happenings of the company.
3. Made News more Accessible and Interactive
Social Media has also brought news and events to your very phone. Following news stations on social media keeps the public “in the know,” on current events happening worldwide. This is a step forward from just reading news articles in the morning, because social media is typically more photo driven, so you can scan through photos rapidly to get up to speed on breaking news in a different country.
2. Brought the World Closer Together
Similarly to more accessible news, social media makes it easier to maintain friendships and keep in touch on a global scale. The days of forgetting to write or email your pen pal in Australia are over. You can now post a picture, tag them in it and start a conversation in a matter of minutes.
1. Started Unique Trends and Movements
Social Media has also started a series of fascinating trends and movements. There are definite instances of cyber bullying on social media, but thanks to the mass populous involved, there are also movements to remedy bullying (#FindDancingMan) – and even better, celebrities are now joining in on movements for good (See Pherrell Williams and the Dance off.) Twitter has opened up the option to actually interact with your favorite Actor, Musician or Author.
Hashtags have also provided fun movements for social media – You can #followmeto incredible places with photographer Murad Osmann, and fulfill your life dream of seeing all the Man Buns of Disneyland (#manbunsofdisneyland) on Instagram.
Although Social Media may detract from the field of professional photography at times, it opens up a new venue for sharing and experiencing creativity, interacting globally and making a difference. As long as we all agree that a blurry “selfie” through a dirty car window can never replace a portrait by Yousuf Karsh.