Growing up as a teenager, I became a huge fan of The Cure. In particular, one song has always stood out for me, “Pictures of You”. As the song queued up today, I was taken back to some of my memories from the past. The melody served as an instantaneous hook into so many past experiences. Naturally, I couldn’t mistake the similarities to photography – especially with this song.

The song dives into how important a photograph can be in our lives. We can become obsessed with them – needing to revisit them often for the solace they provide. I remember years ago reading about a survey that asked people what they would rescue from their home if it caught fire. Overwhelmingly, people first chose the living members and then their photos. Our photos are one of our most cherished assets.

Having wrapped up my family vacation in Paris, I wanted to do a little analysis on just what sort of photos I’ve actually taken. Fifty percent were of nature and flowers, thirty percent were of architecture, ten percent were of city life and ten percent were abstract or macro shots. Notice anything missing from this? In case you didn’t, I had exactly 1 photo of family – the people I spent the last week with.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a fan of photographing people. I hate candid shots despite usually wishing that I had more of them to look back on. I suppose many prefer the smiling faces and awkward poses, but I love the purity of the moment. I prefer to fill those photos with the memories on my own – allowing me to revise them as my own thoughts and feelings evolve on the moments captured.

It’s an interesting paradox, to say the least. The things we decide to photograph says so much about who we are as individuals. We view the world through our own lens, it’s no surprise different parts of the visual world intoxicates us.

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Photography has never been a solitary experience. From the moment you press the shutter button to the moment you share the photo, photography is about capturing and creating memories and connections with other people. With the creation and mass adoption of Instagram, whole communities have popped up devoted to being a part of what Instagrammer @RaviVora calls the Instagram Generation.

During an Instameet in Santa Monica, California, Vora filmed the above mini-documentary. Instagram, Vora argues, is the most personal of all the social networks. It provides a window into the lives and minds of each user. Lori writes:

While technology interfaces for us, and our virtual lives overtake our analog existence, the ironically titled social media encourages isolation over real interpersonal communication. One social media outlet seems to contradict this notion, however. Welcome to an Instagram Generation.

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categories: Uncategorized

A celebration of the photographed world

"Every day, more photos are taken with the iPhone than any other camera."

This new ad from Appledoes a brilliant job of showcasing the photo-fueled world we live in. Little pretty moments in life like feet on a beach or silly moments like friends at a sleepover are now documented and shared.

Not too long ago, photography was a luxury. Parents would have to borrow a friend’s camera to document a special birthday or event, and before that families would have to travel into a photo studio to have a group photo snapped every few years.

This new video from Apple is an advertisement, but it’s also a celebration. Today, photos are a part of life. It’s not just for an occasional birthday, it’s for every birthday – every day, any moment, any place. We can capture the small moments and the big moments, ourselves and our friends, and the smaller parts of this world that we find beautiful or unique like a funny sign on the way to work or the first bloom of spring. The iPhone, the mobile phone in general, has made this new photographed world possible.

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tags: , categories: Thought Leadership
Photo by Gregarious

The Time Lapse

Photo by Gregarious Narain

Yesterday, I did something I haven’t done nearly often enough – took a walk while on vacation. As we causally made our way along the river, I stopped at almost regular intervals to capture a snapshot of the river boats, the architecture, and sometimes even the people. It’s an experience that all of us who have travelled have found ourselves in.

At one point, I thought to myself how laughable this situation was. How many times just this day had some unassuming person taken the exact same picture of the exact same thing? Hundreds of thousands? Millions? I was completely wrong. The answer is zero.

Every moment in time is truly unique. It is a happy accident of time, light and circumstance. The photographer in me has always appreciated this, the casual consumer buried it with a succession of rapid-fire shots that would eventually fall dormant in a digital shoebox. What makes a photograph so unique are not its technical merits — to be honest there may be none of that whatsoever – but the circumstance and point of view it preserves.

For every stray tourist wandering the Rue de Seine yesterday, no one else could ever have been or ever will be in the exact same place and time as me. Perhaps most profound, however, is that no other person will ever possibly share the same story and impart the same experience to that point in time. The position of the sun, the wind, the traffic. All of these unique circumstances help to create a moment that cannot be repeated or staged. That’s a brilliant thing to consider

Our ability to paint with pixels is absolutely taken for granted. While it is easy to capture any moment at any point in time, that does not diminish their value – it buries it. Every photograph summons a story and carries us back to a specific point in time. Amazingly, even if we were not there in person, we can quickly and charitably map our own emotions back to something simple and visual. In our mind’s eye, photos never stand still, they are perpetually in motion.

Photography’s greatest gift to us all is a lapse in time – to perfectly revisit ourselves.

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tags: , categories: Thought Leadership

Photography has come a long way – from huge darkrooms and long processing times to the pocket darkroom and instant sharing. We live in a time where more photos are taken each day than were taken in the first 100 years after photography was invented. This TED Ed video about the history of photography gives an idea of just how far we’ve come from the days of camera obscura.

Today, we don’t just have the ability to snap and share photos. We have at our disposal a whole range of powerful tools that just a few years ago would have seemed impossible. The power of the Lytro camera, which allows a photographer to refocus an image, can now be replicated in an app called Focustwist. You can even develop film with your smartphone now, thanks to Helmut.

The idea of what photography is and what it can be is shifting. Anyone with a smartphone in the right place at the right time can become a photojournalist. Anyone can create complex pieces of art with a few swipes across a touchscreen. The days of 1-hour photo development are behind us. We’re in a world of instant photography, instant development, and instant sharing.

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Photo by @ThePolaroidKid

Internet photographers around the world are celebrating Earth Day with photos of nature, earth-toned fashion, and environmental calls to action.

Brands like Dupont and Lush are even getting in on the fun. A Lush branch in London is inspiring users to reuse their old Lush containers as planters. Meanwhile, Dupont’s Twitter is sharing photos of employers holding up signs explaining how what they do at work helps keep the planet green.

You can check out some of our favorite Earth Day photos in the curated SlideChute gallery below.

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Text messaging, in its current form, puts textual communication at the forefront with other forms of communication, like video and photo, in secondary positions. Snapchat has reversed this and has flourished, while traditional text messaging continues to decline. And yesterday, Snapchat announced that the temporary photo-sharing app hit 150 million shares per day.

Millions of users are choosing photos over text when communicating with their friends, showcasing a shift in how society interacts. We’ve seen how people and brands alike are moving to visual storytelling now that the tools have become so readily available. The darkroom, the camera, and access to our friends now live in a small device we carry in our pocket daily.

However, there is one key flaw in the Snapchat app: the automatic deletion of photos. It’s a novelty feature, and the allure of novelties fade. But the wide adoption of SnapChat gives it the ability to be the main tool used to share photos and short videos directly with a friend. And after all, it’s not really an effective barrier considering users can just screenshot the page.

SnapChat may even want to take note from the television show Mad Men. When pitching a way to sell a wheel-shaped Kodak photo projector, Don Draper hit the nail on the head when explaining the impact a photo viewing device can have:

“Nostalgia – it’s delicate, but potent. Teddy told me that in Greek, “nostalgia” literally means “the pain from an old wound.” It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards. It takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the wheel, it’s called the carousel. It let’s us travel the way a child travels – around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know we are loved.”

We may be decades away from the 60′s now, but the potency of nostalgia hasn’t faded. Photos are more powerful than our memories because they are the gateway to them. They’re more powerful than text because they give an immediate portal to another world or time. That’s where the real power in photos lies – in the ability to relive and to live vicariously.

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“They marched the entire 26.2 miles #bostonmarathon #america #BAA” – Photo by Instagram user brehm5.

The tragedy at the Boston Marathon left all of us in shock yesterday. But despite this, one thing we have been struck by is the help and care that is pouring in – from businesses and individuals alike. Around the country, people are coming together to mourn and heal – both in-person and online, and mobile creators are sharing images in honor and support of victims.

These people – the ones who ran toward the explosion to help victims, the ones offering their time, homes, and money to help the affected, the ones creating and sharing images to keep the people of Boston in our thoughts – they inspire us. They remind us that even though a few people can do terrible and dark things, the majority of humanity is good.

We’ve shared some of the images coming in below. If you want to help, this Huffington Post article gives suggestions.

 

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We think in media. We see the world through filters. The world is unfolding before our eyes, one pixel at a time. Would you want it any other way?

It is estimated that there are already more than 1 billion camera phones in the world. That’s something like 1 in every 6 people in the world has a digital camera on them almost all the time. I’d venture that right now, this very moment, you’ve got one within arms length.

The camera phone was never a guaranteed success. There were dozens of viable alternatives before the original iPhone – but none of them set us free. Even the original iPhone lacked a full resolution camera that made us stare in amazement. But eventually, they got it right and we loved it. That lead to a wave of even greater innovation and an arms race for better lenses, more megapixels, and ever more optimized software.

Our fondest memories, affixed to our walls and standing on our desks, are constant reminders that a photo is not just colors and composition – it’s the bookmark for our lives. Photography is in our blood.

A camera in your pocket is not enough to change the way we see the world, though. It took an underlying shift in our own sensitivities. It built on our own desire to turn the mundane into something truly interesting, exciting and, perhaps most importantly, shareable.

Today is the age of the camera phone – some of them are also smart.

We have a fascination with photography. Since its inception, photography as a science and art has evolved at a staggering rate. From the original darkroom to the pocket darkroom, we’ve demanded faster and better tools that let us express ourselves without compromise. Obsession drives creativity.

Photography’s role in our life has also evolved as well. Early on, we pulled out our cameras to capture precious moments at special events. We focused on the moments most central to our life as we wanted to not lose the moment. Photography was personal.

What’s different now, then? We’ve come to realize just how powerful and diverse our own experiences are. Our exposure to the points of view others have shown that every point of view adds to the conversation and the collective memory of the moment. We are no longer consumers, we are creators.

The desire to share is fueled by the feedback we receive from others – either on the simple aesthetics or the power of the sentiment, and many can’t understand not sharing. The question is: is a photo worth taking if it isn’t shared?

This is part one in a new series looking at the shifts in culture in the time of the visual revolution.

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Hashtags have quickly become the way to navigate online social spheres. Tracking conversations and breaking news on Twitter, finding relevant photos on Instagram, and participating in a community on Tumblr are all powered through hashtags. But they’re more than a navigation tool now. Hashtags have evolved into one of the most important engagement tools for brands and publishers.

The question is, how do you create a hashtag for one-time campaigns and for rolling evergreen content? We’ve got some tips for you below.

1. List

Think about the purpose of your hashtag campaign. What kind of content are you looking for? Let’s say you’re running a nail art campaign. Some buzzwords you might come up with: nailart, mani, pedi, polish, manicure, etc. Come up with as many as you can.

2. Brand & Differentiate

Now that you have your buzzwords, think of ways to use them in different ways. Obviously, tags like #nailart or #mani are already extremely popular, and wont do you much good. Two great companies that have done this well are Sephora and Celebuzz. Sephora’s #nailspotting and Celebuzz’s #ManiMondays are clear enough that anyone would know they were for nailart photos, but also different enough that lets the two companies really own the conversation around the tag.

Another approach is to brand your hashtag. For example, Vanity Fair’s Chute-powered Best Dressed Challenge hashtag is #vfbestdressed. In today’s digital world, branding your hashtag is akin to putting your logo on a product.

3. Research

Once you have a couple potential hashtags, do a quick Instagram search of each. You don’t want to discover down the line that your hashtag was already in use. Remember, you want to really own your promoted hashtags, so any time someone searches it it leads back to you.

4. Launch & Engage

So you have your hashtag, and you’re ready to launch it into the wild? Not just yet. If you want people to interact with you, you need to interact with them. Share your favorite submissions on your own social media accounts, and be sure to like, comment, and @reply in an authentic manner. People, your audience included, like to know they’re being listened to. Never ignore the people who choose to engage with you.

Vanity Fair’s approach towards the entrants to the Best Dressed Challenge is a prime example. Editors and guest judges create monthly lists of their favorite looks along with critiques by the fashion experts. They’ve even made a whole new Twitter account devoted to interacting with users.

Your hashtag, whether used for a one-off campaign or indefinitely, can help you grow the conversation between your company and your audience – creating a sense of loyalty and friendship that is vital in an age where a brand’s online personality has a lot to do with its offline success.

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