The Value of Images

Photography has evolved significantly in the last 20 years. When a young girls takes more pictures of her trip to the restroom than an astronaut did of a walk on the moon it begins to look like the value of images has been trivialized.

There are two basic purposes for photography that are somewhat opposite:

  1. Documenting — To conveniently document a moment in time and faithfully reproduce it later
  2. Art — To break away from the conventional view of reality by portraying the photographer’s view

#1 may eventually get pushed out of favor by something better, whether that’s more convenient or more true to reality, or simply more snazzy. Photography will likely always have a value in fulfilling #2.

Historically photos were mostly reserved for momentous occasions. We now have a generation of people where any desired moment can be captured. Our struggle has quickly turned to one of how to organize, maintain and archive these vast libraries we’ve created for ourselves. That’s an opportunity only just now beginning to be seized.

The value of images, in particular the metaphoric messages they convey, is as strong as ever. We need photos. It’s hard to imagine any impactful presentation without some compelling photos or graphic elements. A picture is worth a thousand words? We currently communicate more to each other through imagery than at any point in human history since the widespread use of writing. Dare I say it has become a part of being human in our culture.

And so those who have developed an ‘eye’ for it, or some technical proficiency, have a head start on one increasingly important element of communication and expression.


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