Since the 1800s, photography has been one of the most popular methods of documenting all that happens in our world. Cameras evolved since Joseph Nicéphore Niépc invented the first system, and the way we create images has evolved too. In the last two decades, videography has begun to surpass the still frame, with many photographers making the switch. That doesn’t mean photography is dead or anywhere near close to dying, but there’s a fresh way it can evolve.
How Photography Already Evolved
At its point of inception, photography had a wealth of room to grow and improve. Technological advancements in hardware made it possible to create images with more detail. And I think it’s fair to say the hardware has peaked in terms of image quality. We haven’t seen much improvement lately, and all cameras on the current market are capable of helping photographers create good images. The Leica M11 and the OM System OM1 are trying to push things forward, but we may have reached the limit of what we can achieve in terms of image quality–time will tell.
In photography, it’s difficult to create something that hasn’t been already created. When you look at the masters of photography, although they were talented, what makes them special is they were the first to create images in ways society hadn’t seen before. Today we see a lot of similar photography. Few photographers break boundaries.
Understanding Photography Consumption in Culture
Over the decades, the manner in which society consumes content has evolved too. First, it was the written word. Then, cameras made it possible to combine words and imagery. And then videography came along and took content creation to another level. The internet, especially in the last 10 years, propelled video creation and consumption to the forefront of creative mediums. Many photographers jumped ship, some proclaiming photography was dead. While that’s not true, sustaining a career in photography has become much more difficult. Large media outlets are satisfied with smartphone pics from Joe Public, and with more people practicing photography than ever it’s become overly competitive. Talent alone isn’t the way to the top–or even close.
So, with the complexities of shooting video, and photographers having a headstart on a total creative novice, making the switch to video made sense in order to pursue a career in the arts. However, the reality is many photographers don’t want to shoot video. Although both are closely linked, they’re very different. Many of us, myself included, prefer to put our energy into developing the still frame.
So with image quality at an all-time peak, and almost every type of photograph you can think of being done already, how can photography keep alive and well?
“Although it exists, I seldom see photographers combine their images with music.”
New Direction for Photography
Prior to my days in photography, I was heavily involved in music. I would DJ in nightclubs, produce music, and I had an online radio show. Life took a different path and photography became my main passion, but my love for music never faded.
Although it exists, I seldom see photographers combine their images with music. With YouTube, Instagram, and other content creation platforms, it’s certainly possible, and I have done it myself numerous times. Both music and photographs are powerful tools for evoking emotions. When brought together, they can whisk the viewer away on a wonderful journey that allows their mind to reach deeper levels of thought and feeling.
I remember a conversation with an old photography friend of mine. She told me, “I edit photographs while listening to music as the music helps drive the way I edit my images.” However, when that photograph gets posted online, all her audience receives is the image. I feel that reduces the emotional impact it could have on a person.
Imagine a fully immersive audio-visual experience that allows the viewer to unlock certain parts of their mind. Beyond stimulating, the experience could even be therapeutic and help promote a new long-form style that gives photography a fresh slant in the years to come. You can see a short-form example of how I feel photography can evolve here.
Photography will never die. It may be different in 100 years’ time, but freezing motion and recording events in our world will always be in demand. However, we need to find ways to keep it engaging. Photography with music can certainly help with that.
The introduction of NFT photography will likely help photographers become more creative with how they deliver content. Gen Z will demand more from the still frame, and rightly so.
I encourage you to spend time with your images and create an online music gallery. In a world where VR galleries now exist, the future of photography consumption is exciting and further confirmation that the still frame will remain alive.