Author: Justin T Shockley @neohxc
Photography has gotten to be a very popular field. Photography has also become a very popular art form. But I think its critical to first understand why. To do that we need to first take a look at what photography is doing for us as a culture.
Photography can be communication. The only difference is what people communicate. For me I understand it to be the primary mode of communication for us at this point. This has all types of ramifications for the business as well as for any member of planet earth. As a Harvard study in the article titled "The power of picturing thoughts" put it:
“This suggests that we can’t really go beyond the here and now and think in abstract ways about other people, places, or times,” Amit said. “This is the way our brains are wired, and there may be an evolutionary reason for this [because] we haven’t always been verbalizers. For a long time, we understood our world visually, so maybe language is an add-on.
We see this very clearly when we look for an apartment for example or when we shop online. Whats the first thing people ask? Let me see it. Just take a second and think about how many times you ask that about anything you want to buy. Sure words and credentials matter but can you really imagine a company like Coco Chanel without envisioning high quality visuals to match? Or the nice apartment you want to buy without great visuals? This is the realm of photography and what good photographers know how to do.
We live in an instantaneous culture that has no time to think, so often times it thinks visually. I would go so far to say this is the norm. This makes sense because technology has exploited our default way of ingesting information; the visual. We live in an age with companies like PixelPhant that can edit and process massive amounts of images all for our visual consumption. We all know the ancient story, the apple did look so sweet in that garden. That moment when all see with and not through the eye. Technology speeds up our thinking pushing the more slow way of processing out of our decision making process namely the verbal.
Think with me, when was the last time you were inside a library, or bought a book inside a Barnes and Noble? Has anyone tracked the decline of the newspaper industry? We know what's happening but this just further emphasizes the worth of the visual storytellers, the film makers and visual artists. While I dont think this all good my point is simply to illustrate what the current state of affairs are.
Modern science also tell us the the visual matters. Not only that but it could be our brains trying to form a coherent message. We're all using visuals to tell a story in our minds. This is simply the current state of affairs or what we all have to work with. As one New York Times article put if "Yes looks do matter." in the article it states (reflecting on Susan Boyle from American Idol):
John F. Dovidio, a psychology professor at Yale, we focus on the contradiction — Ms. Boyle’s voice, for example. While that makes us see her as more of an individual, we also “find a way to make the world make sense again, even if the way we do it is to say, ‘This is an exceptional situation.’ It’s easier for me to keep the same categories in my mind and come up with an explanation for the things that are discrepant.”
Even when presented with multiple exceptions to the stereotype, we often keep the broad category and simply create a subtype, Professor Dovidio said.
The article recalls when contestant Susan Boyle of American idol performed and in that performance she was judged; visually. This is how people collect information. The science is simply telling us what we already know. Photographers, good photographers, know how to create a world around this reality. Once the foundations have been established i think it's clear to see then how critical it is to communicate the right visual message. To get this wrong could be disastrous because when someone lands on a business website for example certain conclusions will be made.
In this day and age you can have the best marketing team in the world but if the client doesn't SEE their product represented properly then that could be the end for them. Now some visual artists might be mad when reading this but I understand why this is all happening. We need words also but if value isn't communicated then people don't know how to represent their brand in the best way. You'll overspend on a website and marketing when culture mostly thinks about what they see. This is a miscalculation.
You need a good high quality photographer because the visual will have the greatest impact. It's simply how our brains are wired and where we've arrived culturally.
As the NY Times article titled "Looks do matter" (on Susan Boyle) ends:
MODERN society, with its awareness of the prejudices of history and its unprecedented ability to introduce so many different types of people to one another, may dilute or even neutralize some preconceived notions. But others will persist and new ones will form, experts say. Which may be why, even as she expressed the hope that “maybe this could teach them a lesson, or set an example,” Ms. Boyle has begun to change her appearance in recent days, wearing makeup, dying her frizzy gray hair, and appearing in more stylish clothing.
“The raw material of saying you’re with me and she’s not is always present,” Mr. Berreby said. “It’s not something we came up with because of TV or the car. It’s not connected to modern life at all. It is inherent in the mind.”