What is the role of photography in the digital age?
In 2013, according to Internet.org’s whitepaper, people uploaded 350 million images to Facebook each day. That’s a lot of images. Now imagine all of the images uploaded in Instagram every hour. Think about the tourists in New York photographing the Statue of Liberty. Think about tourists in India photographing the Taj Mahal, or in Brazil with Christ the Redeemer. In fact, think of all the iconic places around the world getting photographed and shared every second. There are so many images, and now think about all of the images of the past; the forgotten family snapshots, sometimes found as relics at thrift shops in piles. There are billions of photographs in the world, and now there will be exponentially more thanks to technology.
Technology is a tool that allows to experiment. Within the field, photographers take risks you couldn’t afford with film. It was too expensive and precise.
Our lives continue to become ever more connected. In that process, cameras will find their place in the “Internet of Things,” the coherent ecosystem of electronics that we use to help define our new technological existence. As more and more people use images to communicate on an everyday level, who knows how our world will change?
One of the inherit challenges about these changes is that photographer in the digital age makes everyone a professional. With a high-end camera and the right subject, great pictures are waiting to happen everywhere you go. You no longer need a teacher to guide you through the process of film processing and the terms of aperture, exposure, saturation, and so on. Digital photography also makes photography accessible and affordable to everyone. Even ordinary iPhones have high-tech cameras and built-in editing software. Now anyone can shoot quality images, edit them and share them.
However, great photography still requires the same hard work as it was in the past. It requires dedication, patience, creativity. In our new world of virtual reality and augmented reality, the best photographic artists must be willing to react to audiences who demand sophisticated imagery that is dynamic and responsive to change.
And maybe the next revolution in photography isn’t all about technology. Maybe it’s about what we see right in front of our eyes and how we show it. One of the best works this year was from Nico Young, whose collection of images about his friends, fraternal twins, was featured in the New York Times magazine. You can see “Inside Santa Monica High” online, see “Fraternal Twins.”
Whether you’re a more traditional photographer or one who enjoys the latest gear and gadgets, good photography is still the same. It’s documenting the present by producing an artistic interpretation of it. So part of you has to be a dedicated artist to be a professional.