The Democratization of the Message

In this mini series I have thought out loud about the current state of professional photography within a digital environment.  At first I was confused; has cheap, quick and unedited visual content killed photography? Or, has the relationship between digital technology and it’s offspring, Social Media enhanced the communication of visual information?

I am no longer confused.

While it may have been more provocative to say,  Social Media and all that is new in modern technology caused industry job losses and the production of forgettable images, I believe it’s the opposite.

Social Media has “grown the market” as many marketers say. More images taken, more information and even more creativity equals greater communication.  To back this up, I prefer to write about my own experience as a professional photographer. Usually we are the first to complain about the end of past business models (see last blog), but my current workflow is built upon social media platforms and it works beautifully. Before I describe how it works, it’s helpful to know that this is, in spite of added competition and a greater workload.

Here’s an example of just how powerful the photographer-social media relationship can be;

Recently, I photographed a dance competition that had over 269 performers. It was sponsored by one of the largest Dance Studio organizations in Canada. The name is unimportant, except to say that it’s similar to those Dancing with the Stars reality shows one sees on television. Crass, yes and very consumer oriented (Bernie Sanders would hate the idea-winner take all), yet the kids study hard, rehearse and appear to love the whole experience. Enough said about the competition. What matters are the pictures and how they are taken, collected and distributed using social media.

At this point, you may have thought I have forgotten about the purpose of this final blog. I did suggest that this  would be a continuation of, Globe and Mail photojournalist, John Lehmann’s experience with social media and it will be.

My recent dance competition shoot relied entirely upon social media and digital technology to work. In the past, this would fail as a business and creatively. So,how? Well, the dancers dance, judges to their thing and I along with a videographer capture the event. Both mediums (video and still images) go directly from our cameras to, instant uploads on facebook, instram and twitter. After a few hours, the video is also uploaded in edited mini clips, to youtube.  In between the image making, writers quickly add interesting comments about the performers, judges or dance themes in general to the images. The viewer gets instant pics, video and commentary. Images are also sent to computers and screens in a sales pavilion situated in the venue lobby where people can view and purchase the images of their kids, the routines and award ceremonies.

Wow. It’s quick and the images are of great quality and available immediately. Everyone shares in the experience. John Lehmann uses his cell phone to capture images in sensitive situations and where intimacy is paramount to the message. He too, uploads quickly for publication in the Globe and Mail online and across related SM platforms. His images are informative and of, high art. My example is strictly commercial yet both are examples of successful applications of social media and how it works well.

Interestingly, the Selfie is kind of responsible for all of this because SM enables the rapid and often informative messaging of important information to as many people as possible. To the parents of my dance photo’s, the pictures are important. Maybe not as important as the Western world witnessing an uprising in China, but equally as important to the parents of those dancing kids.

Social media has made all images equal and the value of the images, written words, links, video, artwork an branding is left to the consumer-SM has democratized communication like never before.

In this mini series I have thought out loud about the current state of professional photography within a digital environment.  At first I was confused; has cheap, quick and unedited visual content killed photography? Or, has the relationship between digital technology and it’s offspring, Social Media enhanced the communication of visual information?

I am no longer confused.

While it may have been more provocative to say,  Social Media and all that is new in modern technology caused industry job losses and the production of forgettable images, I believe it’s the opposite.

Social Media has “grown the market” as many marketers say. More images taken, more information and even more creativity equals greater communication.  To back this up, I prefer to write about my own experience as a professional photographer. Usually we are the first to complain about the end of past business models (see last blog), but my current workflow is built upon social media platforms and it works beautifully. Before I describe how it works, it’s helpful to know that this is, in spite of added competition and a greater workload.

Here’s an example of just how powerful the photographer-social media relationship can be;

Recently, I photographed a dance competition that had over 269 performers. It was sponsored by one of the largest Dance Studio organizations in Canada. The name is unimportant, except to say that it’s similar to those Dancing with the Stars reality shows one sees on television. Crass, yes and very consumer oriented (Bernie Sanders would hate the idea-winner take all), yet the kids study hard, rehearse and appear to love the whole experience. Enough said about the competition. What matters are the pictures and how they are taken, collected and distributed using social media.

At this point, you may have thought I have forgotten about the purpose of this final blog. I did suggest that this  would be a continuation of, Globe and Mail photojournalist, John Lehmann’s experience with social media and it will be.

My recent dance competition shoot relied entirely upon social media and digital technology to work. In the past, this would fail as a business and creatively. So,how? Well, the dancers dance, judges to their thing and I along with a videographer capture the event. Both mediums (video and still images) go directly from our cameras to, instant uploads on facebook, instram and twitter. After a few hours, the video is also uploaded in edited mini clips, to youtube.  In between the image making, writers quickly add interesting comments about the performers, judges or dance themes in general to the images. The viewer gets instant pics, video and commentary. Images are also sent to computers and screens in a sales pavilion situated in the venue lobby where people can view and purchase the images of their kids, the routines and award ceremonies.

Wow. It’s quick and the images are of great quality and available immediately. Everyone shares in the experience. John Lehmann uses his cell phone to capture images in sensitive situations and where intimacy is paramount to the message. He too, uploads quickly for publication in the Globe and Mail online and across related SM platforms. His images are informative and of, high art. My example is strictly commercial yet both are examples of successful applications of social media and how it works well.

Interestingly, the Selfie is kind of responsible for all of this because SM enables the rapid and often informative messaging of important information to as many people as possible. To the parents of my dance photo’s, the pictures are important. Maybe not as important as the Western world witnessing an uprising in China, but equally as important to the parents of those dancing kids.

Social media has made all images equal and the value of the images, written words, links, video, artwork an branding is left to the consumer-SM has democratized communication like never before.

In this mini series I have thought out loud about the current state of professional photography within a digital environment.  At first I was confused; has cheap, quick and unedited visual content killed photography? Or, has the relationship between digital technology and it’s offspring, Social Media enhanced the communication of visual information?

I am no longer confused.

While it may have been more provocative to say,  Social Media and all that is new in modern technology caused industry job losses and the production of forgettable images, I believe it’s the opposite.

Social Media has “grown the market” as many marketers say. More images taken, more information and even more creativity equals greater communication.  To back this up, I prefer to write about my own experience as a professional photographer. Usually we are the first to complain about the end of past business models (see last blog), but my current workflow is built upon social media platforms and it works beautifully. Before I describe how it works, it’s helpful to know that this is, in spite of added competition and a greater workload.

Here’s an example of just how powerful the photographer-social media relationship can be;

Recently, I photographed a dance competition that had over 269 performers. It was sponsored by one of the largest Dance Studio organizations in Canada. The name is unimportant, except to say that it’s similar to those Dancing with the Stars reality shows one sees on television. Crass, yes and very consumer oriented (Bernie Sanders would hate the idea-winner take all), yet the kids study hard, rehearse and appear to love the whole experience. Enough said about the competition. What matters are the pictures and how they are taken, collected and distributed using social media.

At this point, you may have thought I have forgotten about the purpose of this final blog. I did suggest that this  would be a continuation of, Globe and Mail photojournalist, John Lehmann’s experience with social media and it will be.

My recent dance competition shoot relied entirely upon social media and digital technology to work. In the past, this would fail as a business and creatively. So,how? Well, the dancers dance, judges to their thing and I along with a videographer capture the event. Both mediums (video and still images) go directly from our cameras to, instant uploads on facebook, instram and twitter. After a few hours, the video is also uploaded in edited mini clips, to youtube.  In between the image making, writers quickly add interesting comments about the performers, judges or dance themes in general to the images. The viewer gets instant pics, video and commentary. Images are also sent to computers and screens in a sales pavilion situated in the venue lobby where people can view and purchase the images of their kids, the routines and award ceremonies.

Wow. It’s quick and the images are of great quality and available immediately. Everyone shares in the experience. John Lehmann uses his cell phone to capture images in sensitive situations and where intimacy is paramount to the message. He too, uploads quickly for publication in the Globe and Mail online and across related SM platforms. His images are informative and of, high art. My example is strictly commercial yet both are examples of successful applications of social media and how it works well.

Interestingly, the Selfie is kind of responsible for all of this because SM enables the rapid and often informative messaging of important information to as many people as possible. To the parents of my dance photo’s, the pictures are important. Maybe not as important as the Western world witnessing an uprising in China, but equally as important to the parents of those dancing kids.

Social media has made all images equal and the value of the images, written words, links, video, artwork an branding is left to the consumer-SM has democratized communication like never before.

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