I recently ran across an article in the British Journal of Photography discussing an issue of the French newspaper Libération published without photos. The issue coincided with the Paris Photo fair of 2013 and was meant as a gesture to draw attention to the value of photography and the work of photojournalists at a time when photographers were feeling under-appreciated.
It was apparently a shock to those who saw it, but it does act as a reminder that we have not always lived in such a photo saturated time. It is intriguing that photographers feel threatened by an era in which society is so dependent on visual information that we would be surprised to see a newspaper published without its photos.
But I get it. Everyone has a camera in hand and is able to contribute to the barrage of daily imagery that we all expect today. Photography is no longer confined to those who dedicate their lives to it. But the fact is that not all photography is great, and it seems that the more imagery we are surrounded by, the more we hunger for it. It has become a prime tool for communicating ideas and the value of photographers should remain high, especially as we look at the online presence of people and companies in order to judge their quality and sincerity. In an analysis of the potential of Twitter’s new image heavy interface, the social media distribution company Buffer claims, among other things, that Tweets with images get clicked on 18% more than those without , 89% more Favs, and 150% more Retweets(Buffer).
And why is that?
Put succinctly, “your brain is wired to make sense of an image or photo in milliseconds. Giant portions of your noggin are devoted to doing nothing else except for analyzing and reacting what the eyes see.” Much of human communication is inherently non-verbal. We can understand layers of meaning instantly when confronted with an image, making it a very potent communication tool. Additionally, we have evolved to have a very strong emotional connection to what we perceive visually. So as more and more social and business activity has migrated online, we benefit from taking as many visual clues with us as we can, hence the even more important function of photography in society.
And from the plethora of business articles that sprung up between 2013 and now about the implications for digital marketer of the shift from words to pictures(Forbes), I feel confident that this is a great time to be a photographer.