What do you think when I mention the term “media consumption”?
My mind immediately goes to photography. Photography is everywhere in today’s internet, photo apps are among the most popular on iTunes and Google Play, and do you even want to know how many photos are taken with Instagram every minute? 27,800! That is just shy of 40 million per day. To put that into a little perspective, that is just over 1.5 million rolls of film (24 exposures) per day. Oh, and there is about 100 hours of video will be uploaded to Youtube every minute.
There are a lot of conclusions that might be draw from those numbers. Is too much media consumption bad for you? A German research claims too much of the internet makes you dumb. The massive amount of storage and bandwidth the web’s biggest services consume in order to run. I’m not here to advocate that you should change you internet behavior (actually I might) but here on my photography blog I want to talk about photography.
With all this media consumption and instant access 24 hours a day to media, what is the value of photography? Is there value in photography still?
There are a lot of people on both sides of the argument, you’ll find people who believe that photography is still very valuable and there are people who believe that photography is so widely accessible that the value of photography has been greatly diminished. Most likely, both are right. The value of photography has diminished and while the internet is not only to blame for that, it is the inter connected world we live in. But I believe that there is still quite a bit of value to find in photography and certainly not all of it is monetary.
My biggest point is this; while delivering an acrylic face mount to a client, she very nearly cried while we were hanging it on her wall. There are memories tied to photos (and media in general) that cannot be measured. Photos can move us to tears, inspire action, and make us appreciate the natural world. There is no doubt that photos have a huge value still because we are taking more photos today than any other point in history (even yesterday). We upload them to Facebook, Flickr, or Instagram to share with our friends and family. We scrapbook vacations, birthdays, and keep track of years by looking at photos. We hire people to photograph our weddings, and come up with clever hashtags to differentiate our photos on roadtrips. Yes, we do value photography. It’s part of our lives. Want more proof? How many photos have you taken with your camera on your phone today?
Photography is also getting a diminished value for the very same reason that it is adding value. It’s part of our everyday lives. We see it all the time in our news feeds, and tweets with celebrities visiting your local bar. We see photos on little blue screens whenever we turn them on, we see photos everywhere. While the amount of photographers has skyrocketed, the amount of people making a living solely off photography has not. One reason, it’s very difficult. I know this. I have put great resources into building my photography, learning to get better only to discover that it just gets harder because you don’t necessarily need to be a great photographer to make a living off of photography. You need to be a great businessman who can distinguish your photography from the rest of the world. And that’s not easy either.
So what does this all mean? We consume a lot of media and it’s hard to make a living doing art. Right, check. Mind blowing huh?
My point is this and while it may seem a little self serving, find your favorite photo and buy a print of it. Find something that speaks to you and put that on display, because that is one of the biggest ways to appreciate and value photography. Yes, I’m a landscape photographer who loves to sell his prints. If you like mine, I’d encourage you to buy one but not because I believe I’m going to get rich off photography. Because there is something different about looking at a photo when it is hanging on your wall. When you can reach out and touch it, when it takes up space and it serves as a conversation piece.
There is something valuable about that!