This is something I’ve talked about before, the rise of the internet and how it affects photography on the whole. Especially when it comes to viewing photographs, but too, I think it also tends to affect the way we create photographs. After all, I’ve seen lots of photographers out there trying to create an “Instagram worthy” photograph rather than trying to create, say, a gallery-worthy photograph. And that’s not to cast aspersions on anyone — just an observation that the digital era has fundamentally changed photography.
Today, with the rise of digital media, when it comes to viewing photographs, most of us have a habit of flipping through images quickly. Sometimes, we spend no more than a couple of seconds on each before we swipe or click to see the next one. At best, we spend a minute or two before moving on.
Part of this is because there are just so many images to look at. Hundreds of thousands clogging our feeds every single day. But, too, part of it is just because it’s become second nature to flip through quickly. There’s always more to look at, so why not look at as much as we possibly can?
But good images are worth more than that, I think. It’s worth our while to stop and do a double take when we run across an image that really stands out. In fact, I’d argue that these images, the ones that make you do that double take, are the ones you should be bookmarking so you can revisit them later. Come back and spend time with them, a little bit more each time you open up that link. Really pause to consider, and to take note of all the details you didn’t see before. That’s what looking at photographs should be about. Not just a couple of seconds of pleasure, but a lasting experience.
And, too, I think this is a helpful thing to think about when creating images. Are you creating photographs that are meant to be consumed in a minute or two? That flashy Instagram post meant to capture attention among millions of others, but on closer examination, doesn’t really have much in the way of substance?
Or are you taking time on your photographs? Because when you take time on them, when you really pause to consider what needs to go into this image to make it complete, that’s when the magic happens. This is the process that adds richness, detail, and life to the image. And those are the qualities that make people pause to do a double take when looking at your photographs. I think that’s probably the main thing to consider when creating a photograph. No matter how you go about it, do it with the intent of having your viewers always discovering something new each and every time they return to look at your image. It’s all about substance rather than photographs designed for no more than fast gratification.