Why Photography Matters To The World Today
Written by Amy-Lee Hands
His eyes were glazed as he stood before the smoldering ashes of their once majestic home. Everything was gone. In one foul swoop, every article of clothing, furniture, priceless possessions and memories burned to ash. The only thing left of any value untouched are as many photo albums he and his wife were able to save. As he Holds her, she thinks to herself, “This is why photography matters”
Photography matters for many reasons. This example, although extreme, is a common reason as to why photography matters so much in today’s world. In this post, we will explore why photography matters plus look back on some iconic photographs.
Photographs show us what we value
In the burning house example, you can see how the most valuable thing for this couple is their memories. Human cultures love to document important events such as births, marriages, parties, graduations, birthdays, holidays, generations of family, and ourselves etc. We love to look back at the past and remember the dates, times and people that matter to us. Photographs become your story, your personal journey in pictures.
Also in many cases, insurance companies expect that their clients will provide images of their insurable items. For example, if you have a collection of coins having images of these items will provide your insurance company with detailed descriptions for those items.
Photographs are part of our legacy
She had spent her entire life looking for him, all she had were two photographs. One image is of her sitting on his knee as a toddler. The other a faded polaroid photo of him giving her mother a big smooch. Little did he know that these two photos would be his legacy to a young woman who called him dad, yet didn’t know him at all. Years later as the digital era continues to expand, she used her tattered photos to scan to her social media searching for clues through her network. After a long search, a distant relative gave her information that led to their meeting. This is just one example of how a photo can leave a lasting legacy for future generations.
Iconic images are important to remember major events in time. For example, who knew that the famous image of the nurse and the sailor kissing after the war would be an image that mesmerized the world? Both the sailor, the nurse or the photographer could not have fathomed just how important that image would be to us; marking the end of an era in time. The image has been used countless times over the last 69 years. You may have seen it in memes, postcards, blogs websites and even big business marketing
campaigns. The image draws so many emotions from you, excitement, happiness and a sense of wellbeing. There is also a mystery about this image, who took the image, who is the couple in the photo? Are they even a couple? Speculations have plagued the image over the years, but I like to create my own story about this picture. Photography allows you to do that, view an image and create your own view of what it means to you.
A picture is worth 1000 words
Photography matters because it allows us to communicate and share our stories, ideas, and love. You only have to go as far as Instagram, Flickr or Pinterest to see how much we love to communicate with images. Photographs are more than just documenting an event they evoke emotion, tell a story and share experiences. Millions upon millions of people share images of the world around them from what they ate at their fav restaurant to their wedding day.
People love to photograph their life and share it. Many of the women I interviewed for this article responded to my question “Why does Photography Matter?” that sharing photos on Instagram or social media was like a digital photo album with time stamps. They could remember the day, time and event like it was yesterday without fear of losing their precious memories online.
Companies understand why photography matters better than most
Businesses use images to create feelings within you that will ultimately provoke you to buy from them. They know that you will buy from them if you fall in love with them in some way, whether that’s their brand, their product or their service. To do this they use imagery and beautiful slogans. Take the worldwide brand Apple. Apple is the only other brand in the world apart from Harley Davidson, to infiltrate the faith center of the human brain. How? Through the way they made their target audience feel, a huge part of that was through their imagery. What do you ‘feel’ when you see an image of Steve Jobs or the Apple iPhone?
Photography creates artists
Each of us has an inner artist, some of us more talented than others of course, but even the most unartistic person tries to find a way to photograph their latest pancake stack in an artistic way. Everyone enjoys a nice image. For photographers who love to create fine art, photography gives them a way to make a somewhat ordinary scene, a spectacular art piece that conveys cadence and emotion to the beholder.
Photography has evolved from the closet darkroom to the digital darkroom (Photoshop or Lightroom) so now imagery can be taken to a whole new level. As a photographer, I can take a plain image of a girl against a backdrop and turn it into an image that speaks volumes. With the right software and a good sharp correctly lit image a photo can become a statement piece for art galleries and even museums.
Photography is a Language
As we have spoken about earlier, a photo can speak to you, what does that mean? Photography is a complex language which allows the viewer to feel sorrow, joy, fear, anger, excitement, happiness and so much more. Can you think of an image that spoke to you? One that comes to mind for me is the famous Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a young girl, Phan Thi Kim Phúc OOnt, taken during the Vietnam war on
June 8, 1972. The image shows her at the age of 9 running naked on the road after being severely burned on her back and arms by a South Vietnamese attack. The photograph was taken in Trang Bang by AP photographer Nick Ut.
When I first came across this image I was just a teen, it spoke to my heart. The feeling was despair and hopelessness. This image evoked a passion inside me to always show the truth with my images, and to always make a difference in the world through my photographs. The photo taught me that an image does not have to be technically perfect to be incredible. It taught me a huge lesson as to why photography matters.
Photography Can Help Heal
I don’t know about you but when I have my camera in hand, I’m in the zone. Nothing else matters. If I’m having a bad moment I know that all I have to do is grab my camera or the handiest one (iPhone) and start snapping away. At that moment it really doesn’t matter how accurate I am with my settings or what I’m taking photos of, just that I am stopping all negative thought and focusing on what’s in front of me. Studies have shown that Photography can help heal depression. The One Project, have a dedicated private online community, and caring mental health support group using therapeutic photography techniques to connect and support others suffering from depression and anxiety – forever free.
Photography can make you fall in love
During many of my couple engagement photoshoots, I’ve noticed couples falling in love all over again. It’s definitely a way to bring a couple closer together, I have them look into each other’s eyes and smile or just gaze. I guide them on posing so that they are close and, in each other’s space, just enough to be cozy, and almost all of my clients comment on how much fun they had while falling for each other all over again.
For me, that is a truly successful photo shoot, because what I am able to capture is raw and real. When you look back at an image it’s not only the image you see, it’s the memory of that moment that fills you with emotion. The image of a lost loved one or the birth of a child all stirs up feelings more powerfully than just the memory alone. It’s almost as if the photograph can transport you back to that exact moment as if it were yesterday.
I remember looking back at photos of my own childbirth and I could literally hear and remember everything as if I was there all over again. I’m sure many mothers and fathers out there will agree just how significant their children’s images are to them.
Why photography matters to the world are not just because it heralds big revolutions or because it marks the extraordinary. Photography matters because it marks the ordinary, the every day, the transient subjects of modernity, seen most emblematically in the context of social media.
To Wrap Things Up
The power of photography can help heal broken minds and hearts by bringing out the creative spark we all hold inside our heart, it speaks to us in ways words only hope to. It has power, it shows us what we value and is part of our legacy. Since its creation photographs have helped shape our world, values, and perspectives.
For a family who has lost everything a single photo is worth more than gold, an irreplaceable memory captured forever in a photograph. At times a single image is all that is left of a person, the only legacy their family has. When a survey was conducted by a group of university students at QUT, they found 97% of people would save their photos before anything else in a fire. I know what I would save, and my photo albums are definitely top of that list.
Fortunately, these days we live in a digital age and you don’t have to worry about storing digital photos only on hard drives; there are many cloud-based websites that will store your images for free or for a fee. Apple’s iCloud is definitely a good source of data storage, along with Dropbox, or OneDrive is what I trust and use; although there are many available. When you’re choosing your cloud storage host do your homework and always back up your images on a hard drive as well.
Photographs are irreplaceable, once lost they are gone forever. This makes them highly valuable even though you cannot exchange them for money. They are a commodity we take for granted as a right, when once they were an event for special occasions. In 2018 photography has evolved into part of our journey that we cannot live without. We use it in most aspects of our daily lives!
The power of photography is immeasurable and that’s why photography matters.
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