In essence, photography is a way of nonverbal communication. It’s a visual expression of our esthetical capabilities and is a genuine art form. Yet, unlike other artistic outlets, shooting photos is constant in the everyday lives of all us regular folks. Nine out of ten people you know and hang out with will have Instagram or some other image-orientated social media platform. And no matter how naive, it makes them photo artists in some way.
However, it’s not just about using silly filters and shooting selfies to try and up your societal status. Regardless of how good you are with the lens and what kind of device you have, it’s a creative process. As such, there are numerous reasons why people value photography. In the following few paragraphs, we’ll try to explore them together with you. We’ll touch on making history, sending powerful messages, and capturing the present.
The importance of photography first comes down to it being a way to preserve memories. It works on two fronts — personal and historic. First, who doesn’t have a photo album full of images of their family, friends, and relatives? Sure, booklets aren’t fashionable anymore, but we have our digital collections on our phones and modern cameras. And those of us who keep old things, well, we have aged, yellow-tinted albums that we hold dearly.
The other way photography influences our lives is by preserving historic events. We are all aware of famous photos from history. From American soldiers lifting the red-blue-and-white flag at Iwo Jima to the image of that young soldier in the Vietnam War whose helmet says ‘War is Hell’ — it’s how we learn our past. And even though these might be in black and white, they still depict important events and carry valuable messages.
Source of Living
Next up, we need to mention how capturing moments of our lives is a way to earn a living for many people. Whether it’s doing artsy images or shooting weddings and other personal events, photography is lucrative. Of course, there’s always a big competition. This is mostly down to everyone having a great lens these days. Nevertheless, it’s not just about having a quality camera. Instead, it’s more essential how you use it.
To make a living from photography, people need to master their skills and come up with interesting and unique content. One can shoot stills, nature, people in public and urban spaces, and much more. On the other hand, they can do all that with different devices, from digital cameras to old and retro analog ones. Both offer different qualities and suit different styles, but they can both be a source of great income.
Freedom of Expression
Although most of us use photography to capture digital images and upload them online to lift our social status on Instagram, it can have more meaning. Photography doesn’t have to be superficial. Like we’ve said, many artists use it to send out important messages. Whether they are political or not, images are sometimes more powerful than thousands of words. So, let’s list some of the most poignant photos now, shall we?
The first one that comes to mind is Kevin Carter’s image of famine that depicts a starving child in Africa next to a vulture. On more of a bright note, there’s Eisenstaedt’s V-Day photo from 1945. On it is a young couple, kissing and celebrating the end of WWII. Another interesting photo that celebrates freedom of expression is that of Sigourney Weaver with a hose between her legs. An attack on the patriarchy, or something else? You decide.
Potential Use as Evidence
Another way that shows how significant photos are to modern living is crime-solving. If you ever watched a police-themed TV show, you might have noticed that the guys in blue always photograph the crime scene. But why, you might ask. Well, the reason is simple. Photos capture everything. And by everything, we mean all that our naive eyes miss out on. This way, detectives can have a better chance of solving the case.
This crime-solving method is what we know as forensic photography. It’s been in use ever since the early 20th century. And now, with better lenses that can capture even the smallest of details, it plays a major role in solving crimes. Once the police arrive at the scene, the first thing they do is shoot tens if not hundreds of shots before they touch anything. And with captured photos, it allows them to mingle around and inspect even closer.
Aside from capturing precious moments in our lives, sending messages, and helping solve crimes, photography has a purpose in education. You have to be living under a rock to not know that most classes use photos for students to learn from them. Either that or you never went to school. Kidding aside, photos play a major role in schools, colleges, and universities across the world and crosswise all subjects.
It’s easy to assume that only art students use photos in their curriculum. However, that’s simply not true. You can study literature, and you’ll still be seeing photos on slides, helping you through your classes. As such, it doesn’t matter what you’re studying — photos will always follow you. Of course, for educational purposes, there’s no need for beautiful photos, full of artistic touches. They just need to depict the subject with clarity.
Capturing Present Moments
Lastly, we need to mention the current trends in digital photography. As we’ve said, almost everyone is on Instagram nowadays. And that’s okay. We enjoy posting our photos online and receiving likes and comments from friends. In some ways, it makes us feel better about ourselves, and that’s completely reasonable in our book. However, even if you don’t care much about it, such social media platforms develop our photography skills too.
With high-quality cameras on our smartphones, anyone can feel what it’s like to be a photo artist. We can experiment with angles, lighting, and filters, making unique content every day. And even though not all of us will hold exhibits in fancy galleries in Manhattan, we’ll have a creative output through social media. Furthermore, Instagram-like platforms help us capture present moments and are saving them for future generations.