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Recently I asked the Instagram Community a question. “How has the practice of photography altered the way you perceive the world?” I asked because I’ve experienced this shift in perception myself, and have my own thoughts about why photography is such a worthwhile pursuit. With the advent of mobile photography, so many more creative minds can be a part of these conversations. Reading responses was not only inspiring-it was eye-opening. Together, as a community, with these connected devices- we can all tell this story.
Photography has fundamentally altered the way I observe the world, even if I’m not looking for the next photograph. When you study light- everything you see is a learning experience. As @knewnyc puts it, “Photography has made me appreciate the light of the world mostly when I don't have a camera. You learn how to look for as well as capture the beautiful moments life can offer, and as a photographer, you're always looking. Looking at the different shapes and light around you thinking how you can make your creative mark by capturing life in a way that's unique to you.” This desire to stand out as a unique artist drives individuals to follow their own creative paths. The people who have the drive to follow those paths, day after day, year after year, arrive somewhere truly incredible.
But what benefit does a shift in perspective have in our lives? Our reality is a product of our perception, so small changes, accumulating over time, can have a profound effect on the way we live. Think about the things you focus your attention on- are they having a positive or negative effect on your daily experience of this world? Perhaps @jfoizey put it best when he commented, “all my life, I feel like I've been taught to seek out the ugly things in the world- and not without good reason- we need to stay safe from them. But photography had taught me the opposite- to seek out the beauty. I'm constantly looking for something beautiful because of my camera. And because of that, I find more of it. What better benefit than that?” I too feel that photography has put me on a path of seeking out the beauty in this world, and the more I seek, the more I uncover.
Because there is an infinite amount of beauty to uncover in this world. Together, we explore and share in this collective experience- sharing our vision with each other across vast distances, connected by devices and networks. This desire to contribute to the collective creativity of this community can be a motivator like no other. As @jjakes describes, “Not only has photography given me a fresh set of eyes, but it has also pushed me to see sights I wouldn't have seen and to meet people I wouldn't have met. I will treasure those moments forever, reliving the past through the snapshots I've taken, and giving me a brighter hope for the future.”
Our photographs are deep links to our treasured memories, and can transport us to those savored times. By hanging a memory on a visual reminder like a photograph, recall becomes easier. Like @djpatrickallen notes, “being able to document moments not just in my memory but physically so I can reflect on them has made life more beautiful. Whether it be my Bushwick roof view, or something I see walking the streets, or a moment someone else shares that intrigues me I'll be able to look back years down the road and recapture the same feeling it first brought me.” Photographs have always held a deep significance when it comes to recalling the past, acting like windows to a far away place and time.
Photography is in itself a great pleasure- but the lessons we learn from it hold true to other aspects of life as well. @thelifeobserved brought up a great point in response to my prompt, “I notice things automatically that other people don't notice. You start to see things from all kinds of angles. This translates into everyday life for me. In the same way I search for new poses and angles to shoot my subject, I've found that looking at problems and situations from all different angles can help me solve them, and help me see that maybe my problem isn't that much of a problem after all.” Developing the ability to see things from a variety of viewpoints shows us just how many solutions there are out there for the problems we face. Pursuing different paths makes new paths easier to recognize. Embrace your expanded perception and let it help you break through lifes barriers.
This creative culture is so much more than just photography. At the core- its about communication and connection- two components of community. After all, as @queenscapes wisely noted, “photography has showed me how much people yearn to be a part of a community, photographers and non-photographers alike.
Creativity, art, and culture have so much to teach us about navigating this complex world. The lessons we learn and the perception we gain from slowing down for a moment to appreciate the beauty of the world can help us to lead more fulfilling lives. So take in the world around you, there is so much to learn if you listen. Thanks for reading- to see the full conversation, load the post below.
At certain critical moments in our collective history, technologies arise that completely redefine the way that we communicate with one another. Communication is the fiber that holds our society together- it permeates the barrier of individuality and enables us to work together towards common goals. Communication shapes our society, and whenever communication is fundamentally altered by technological advances, society is altered in turn.
Let’s take a moment to think back about a few of these critical moments. Prior to the invention of written language, our communication was limited to face-to-face interaction. Oral history was the only connection we had to our past, and could be a tremendously unreliable resource. Our memories are fragile compared to the strength of stories ‘set in stone.’ The invention of the written world allowed us to share our experiences with future generations, who used these writings as a foundation to build their own intellect upon. Advancement is dependent on recorded information.
Fast-forward to another world-changing development. The invention of movable type and the printing press. Prior to this technological advance, literacy was restricted to those who could afford to be educated. Books were precious artifacts, hand-copied by human scribes, and their distribution was extremely limited. Even having a personal copy of the bible was a luxury, and the masses were kept from developing literacy by the scarcity of the medium.
The printing press changed everything. Suddenly, books could be mass produced and distributed across the population. This accessibility led to an explosion of literacy and creativity- the written word had been democratized. More and more people could learn to read and could therefore communicate with each other through that medium. Communication lets us share our ideas with each other- and ideas are what change our world.
So how important is communication to our evolution as a society? It’s completely intertwined, and entirely inseparable. Our mediums for communication, Harold Innis argued, “evolv[ed] in tandem with shifts in political and economic systems, and by extension, systems of power.” Those systems are the framework for our society- which could not exist as it does without the connective fiber of communication.
Let’s breeze by a few milestones- the mail, the telegraph, the telephone, radio and then television- and enter into the most efficient era of communication thus far- the internet. If communication is the fiber that unites our society, the exponential increase in connection that the internet enables exponentially strengthens those ties. We are no longer limited to our physical borders, and ideas can instantly spread across the entire globe. The cables, satellites, and cell towers are the neurons that our collective mind depends upon. It’s that collective mind that puts the collective memory of the world at our fingertips, and allows us to instantaneously access distant information.
The most recent shift in communication tools is even more powerful than interconnected computers. Smartphones have become ubiquitous enough that the majority of Americans have one in their pocket. As noted in a Forbes article penned by Mark Rogowsky, “ As popular as smartphones are overall, for young people, they’re nearly essential. In the 18-34 demographic, penetration is 80% and the limiting factor is mostly money. For those earning $75,000 and up, 90% have a smartphone already.” These devices come with cameras, and apps that allow us to share photographs and videos with each other in real time. For the first time in history, we can communicate fluidly, peer to peer, with visual media.
The medium of visual communication was once reserved for those who could afford expensive cameras and education in tedious chemical processes. Now 90% of young Americans have the tools for instant visual communication- like the printing press, the smartphone has democratized a medium of communication, ushering in an era of unprecedented creative growth. Harold Innis postulated that this shift did indeed start with the printing press, noting that ,“The discovery of printing in the middle of the fifteenth century implied the beginning of a return to a type of civilization dominated by the eye rather than the ear.” Smartphone technology- along with the growing bandwidth of our networks- has further strengthened that domination.
Our civilization is exponentially adopting visual communication- our fluency continuously grows. Since our society evolves in tandem with our mediums of communication, the rise of instantaneous visual dialogue will forever change our lives, our industries, and our world.
A few weeks back on Instagram I started a new hashtag to collect portraits of the IG community. Here are my 10 favorite submissions. Use the tag to have a chance to be featured here!
Thanks for checking out this gallery- see you out there!
Every so often, I call on the Instagram Community to come together to recommend feeds that are underrated. There is such an incredible pool of talent out there, and sometimes its helpful to take a step back and talk about who is creating some stunning work. This week, my favorite underrated feed was @danimalnail. Here are my 5 favorite shots from his feed.
For my second edition of my series highlighting underexposed talent on Instagram, I decided to feature some incredible work by Hawaii and Portland based photographer @stubeeksma. Stuart captures the most stunning, ethereal landscapes- replete with a grand sense of scale and conscious edits that only enhance the beauty he captures. There is a sense of story here. I see a lot of success in his feed- here are five examples of images that speak to me.
Hope you enjoyed this curation- be sure to follow @stubeeksma for more.
Yesterday, I asked the Instagram Community to recommend rising talent for me to feature here on my blog and to spotlight on my Instagram profile. I was astounded by the incredible number of high quality feeds that were mentioned, and choosing the first feature was no easy task. You can browse the comments on this post to find great new feeds to follow. One of the standouts however, was @audiotistic_. His feed is certainly underrated- with well thought out composition, carefully executed long-exposures, and a consistency in style that is hard to achieve. Here are my top 5 shots from his feed.
Show some love and give @audiotistic_ a follow, and tell him I sent you.