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Social Media Alters Our Photographic Judgment and Analysis Skills

A black and white photo of a landscape of Yosemite in California. Photo by Amar Guillen.
A black and white photo of Yosemite in northern California. This photo has nothing of the aesthetic canons of the photos published on social networks. Yet it has been sold several times.

Social Media’s Trivialization of Photos Is a Great Danger to Photography

Social networking is not a bad thing in itself. It is a way to share and exchange instantly.

Similar to how digital cameras were an extraordinary evolution of photography, social media networks are simply the next step in this evolution chain.

The problem, as always, is how we as human beings choose to use social media. Some social networks have a real plus for photography and photographers. They allow us to spread ideas quickly and easily. Thus, photography is evolving towards emography.

Photography is an activity that requires time, experience, and a commitment to introspection. It is necessary to develop a photographic why, a photographic conscience, identity, foundations, and creativity.

Emography does not require all these qualities. It is enough to take a picture just because there is an event and post it on social networks.

Photos have become commonplace. Photographers who post a lot are not seen anymore. They become part of the mass of information delivered. People get bored quickly nowadays. The speed of data transfer and the ease of access to them allow us to find answers to our questions in a few seconds.

Social networks are the image of our modern world. There is only room for the sensational, the spectacular, and the one-upmanship. But what is the point of all this? The exceptional becomes banal because there is always an exceptional event in the world. Many photos published on social networks are void of meaning. They do not encourage analysis or introspection. They are visual information. Photography becomes trivialized and uninteresting to most of us.

Social Networks Impair Our Photographic Judgment

The proliferation of images on the networks represents another danger: the alteration of our photographic judgment.

When we browse the walls of images that are offered to our eyes, we scroll with our finger or our mouse.

Our eyes scan our screens in search of information. This remarkable information is characterized by contrast, saturation, and vivid colors. This is what I call impressive photos at first glance.

In addition, our eyes are attracted to the hot areas of the screen. Indeed, when we look at a computer screen or mobile devices, we do not look at the whole screen. Our brain selects certain areas of the screen that are called hot zones. If you research this topic on the internet, you will discover an extraordinary world. You will discover how marketing professionals use visual tools to attract you.

Your eye will naturally be drawn towards the warm areas. In addition, it will look for saturated, contrasting photos, with bright colors. It will look for impressive, eye-catching images. Finally, you will always be attracted by the same photos in a totally unconscious way.

That is why I wrote that our photographic judgment is greatly altered by social networks.

We lose our ability to analyze pictures. We will always look at the same kind of pictures.

The conclusion of this paragraph is that most people who spend a lot of time on social networks come to believe that these contrasted, saturated, and explosive images are the standard.

This is what I see especially in many beginner photographers who have surfed many social networks. They think that a photo should be very colorful and very contrasted. They think that a photo should be seen at first glance with retouching techniques.

They forget the essential: the meaning. They do not know that photography is an art form that is also an extraordinarily strong form of expression. In addition to losing their faculties of analysis and judgment, they become uniform. They look like the others. It is the standardization and formatting of a beautiful society.

If you do not want to fall into this trap of uniformity, never forget that you have to create pictures for others. Your goal is to express yourself but also to help others. Your mission as a human being is to bring your stone to the building. Wanting to be like every other photographer does not benefit you or the world. When you try to mimic someone else, you are denying yourself and the world that special vision and perspective which only you can share.

Is This Evolution of Photography a Good Thing?

I do not have the answer to this question. I can only observe that the way of photography is changing. From an art form and a mode of expression, it is becoming a means of information. This is evolution. Maybe these changes will bring us new ways of thinking and seeing the world.

For the moment, the search for the spectacular and the instantaneous show that the general level of photography is being pulled down. A lot of people who take pictures do not ask themselves questions. They photograph and they post and then they repeat.

For me and my constant quest for timelessness, this is a mode of operation that I find hard to adopt. In fact, I do not even try.

Diamonds in the Rough

Despite this observation of the degradation of the average level of the photographers, I sometimes find particularly good photographs. These are diamonds in the rough and they can be difficult to find. There are some photographers’ social media accounts whom I passionately follow because they preserve an authentic photographic approach.

But I go to their websites more often than to their social network accounts. The blog format remains for me the best way to share with other photographers.

I take the time to read stories, to soak up the atmosphere of the photos. The main difficulty is to find these gems amid the vast ocean of images.

The lack of quality is often a hindrance for me to spend time looking for good photos. I spend less and less time looking for inspiration on social networks. The average photos do not interest me. Only the search for excellence stimulates me in my photographic activity.

Should We Use Social Networks to Show Our Photos?

This time, I have an answer to that question: yes.

Using social networks to post photos is interesting for photographers.

But I think you must do so in a balanced and very thoughtful way. If a photographer posts a lot of pictures on social networks, the people who follow him will get bored. They will not even take the time to like or write a comment. They will just fly over the photos without looking at them.

If a photographer consistently posts one or two high-quality photos per week, for example, he will have every chance to be seen and followed.

As in all areas, quality is more important than quantity.

Quality photos are photos that express emotions, convey messages, or translate feelings. They are photos that make sense. They are photos that will appeal to those surfing the web for inspiration. They evoke genuine reactions of joy, awe, wonder, and introspection. Believe me, no one is interested in looking at a photo in a restaurant or in an airport.

Social networks are places to share within a community. They are not meant to highlight how great you are or how important your job is. As I said in a previous paragraph, people are only interested in one thing in life: themselves. Nothing else matters.

That is why when you post photos on social networks, you should always ask yourself what you will bring to others. If you do not bring anything to your photos, then they will not be looked at or they will be forgotten very quickly.

If you need to remember one thing from this article, it is this fact. Believe me, I have been in contact with customers who buy my art for years. If I were to forget this essential rule, I would not sell any more photos.

Donc So, when you post photos on social networks, do so with others in mind. Empathize by asking yourself what you are going to contribute to them and what you are going to do to make things happen. It is as simple as that.

And If This Revolution Also Applied to Other Art Forms

During my research for this article, I had a few exchanges with a photographer whose first name is Annik. She was a professional musician. She was a concert performer, and her instrument was the flute. I found her testimony and her thoughts remarkably interesting. I wanted to share it with you. Here they are:

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« All these photos that we see everywhere, make me think of a phenomenon a little identical with the music. Music is played everywhere: restaurants, stores, train stations, etc.
It has become background music that no one listens to. It messes with your head. And it is usually bad music. In musician's jargon, we call it SOUP. No one is listening to this music that is being played in spite of us anymore. We are no longer concentrated. We do not feel any emotion when we listen to it. Everything becomes banal. Fortunately, there are records and concert halls where we can really listen in silence, in contemplation, let ourselves be lulled, bewitched. »

Reading Annik's comments, I have the impression that this phenomenon of trivialization and of a level drawn towards the average also applies to other artistic forms.

What do you think? I have no idea. One thing is certain. If we want to be different, we must absolutely continue to cultivate this search for excellence that we will never achieve. This is the price to pay for our photos to be different, interesting, and remarkable.

Finally

I hope this article has given you a new insight into the relationship between social networks and photography.

The artistic field will know a revolution without precedent by passing from a function of expression to a function of information. The world evolves. Photography too.

When you post your photos on social networks, you may not do it the same way. Do not fall into the average. Always strive for excellence. This is a quality that makes good photographers strong.

 

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