Why is photography important in today’s society?

The world’s first photograph was taken nearly two centuries ago in 1826, but it took between eight hours and two days to develop. It wasn’t until 1901 that photography became more widespread, when the Kodak Brownie came on the market with the slogan “you press the button, we’ll do the rest”. 

Since then, from fashion photography to photojournalism, images have changed our society in a plethora of different ways, but what makes photography so important in the 21st century?

Social media and photography

Photography shows us a snapshot of a specific moment in time; whether it’s an image of a wartorn country, a stunning sunset or a new piece of technology. Decades ago, we would have to resort to words or grainy newspaper photographs to envision these scenes, but now with the advent of social media, we can see photos of cutting edge developments in real time, wherever they occur. 

Coronavirus may have us quarantined within our homes, but just by picking up your phone you can see countless beautiful places across the world; from snow-capped mountains in Nepal to atmospheric temples shrouded in mist in Japan. 

The ability to share photos with just a click removes the exclusivity from many industries as well. For example, before the advent of smartphones and social media, a fashion catwalk was only open to fashion photographers and the fashion elite, with hobbyist fashionistas forced to buy expensive glossy magazines to keep up to date with the trends of the season. 

Now, however, designers use photography and social media to showcase their creations to the entire world, making fashion photography more accessible. This means everyone from Angola to Vanuatu can see and be inspired by fashion designers from across the globe. 

Photography as a visual language

Photography is so much more than just an image; it can evoke emotions, bring back memories of distant times, and even incite action. And, just as everyone’s manner of speaking is different, each photographer will have a different way of using their language. 

For example, give two fashion photographers one identical spring/summer collection. Each one will take a completely different set of photos, because they are inspired by different elements of the selection. That doesn’t mean one set of photos is better or worse than the other; what’s important is how well the photos represent the style and the brand. 

This is true for commercial photography as well. Think about the retail therapy you’re currently indulging in during the Coronavirus quarantine; it’s all online! It doesn’t matter how good a product description is, you are not going to buy any product without a good product photo. An advertising photographer has to capture the essence of the brand, as well as the material, style and colour of an item. A good advertising photographer doesn’t just show you the product; they make you need it.

Photography fosters creativity

If you’ve decided you want to become a freelance photographer, or if you just want to develop some photography skills during quarantine, then you might be put off by the fact you can’t leave the house. Don’t let this stop you!

Photography can give  you a new perspective on your surroundings, and it can inspire you to  start looking at things in a different light. It may just be your toothbrush on your sink, but think about how the light and shadows fall, or analyse the colours, contrast and composition to see new beauty in ordinary things. Think of your house as your new playground; envision yourself as a fashion or  lifestyle photographer and compose photos that are worthy of your very own magazine – or just share them on social media!

Photography, and the ease with which we can share images around the globe, has become an intrinsic part of our society. We now have visual access to places we would never be allowed in usually, we can travel without leaving the sofa, and we can turn our own homes into photo studios! 

*So here is what I’ve created in the lockdown. From the garden studio, I have transported you to the jungle!

fashion photographer uk london editorial plants tropical

See link to more of this fashion shoot here:

https://tory-smith.com/fashion/