The importance of photography

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Everyone has a camera these days. Millions of photos are posted on instagram and facebook everyday. Some people take snap shots of their meals, some document their travels with selfies. You could come to the conclusion that all this photographic activity dissolves the value of a photograph. I am here to argue that there is still such great value in photography as an action and as an end product.

Selfie Photo

We have all seen the people on holiday with their selfie sticks attached to their phones. Serious photographers find it difficult to understand, but there is value in this activity. It is nothing new. Self portraits are as old as photography itself. The only thing that has changed is the level of convenience.

The value of tourist selfies is the same as any portrait or travel documentary photo. It is a photographic record. It is communication. It is telling your folks back home that you are safe on your travels. It is reminding your older self how young and free you once were.

In the new world of high speed internet, the Selfie Photo gives everyone a chance of Fame.  If you are lucky you will have good light and drama as you travel with your camera phone.  The importance of a Selfie Photo is that it is an instant ‘whish you were here’.  Just as our phones have become and extention of our brains, the camera enhances our memory of our travels.

Selfie at Godafoss Waterfall
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Food Photos

Often on our tours, people will photograph their plate before they eat. The aim isn’t to sell the photo back to the restaurant for the menu. It is merely an aspect of travel photography. Cuisine is just as much a part of travel as landscapes.  Many cultures eat specific foods. Icelanders enjoy burn lamb face.  Koreans love Kimchi.  When your are travelling, I believe experiencing local food is just as important as visiting the attractions.  Food gives you a flavour of the folk.  A photo of your plate will help to remind your of the taste of travel.  In practical way, photographing your meals is a great way to keep a food diary. Bon Appetite. 

Nature photography

In my humble opinion, landscape is the most important type of photography. A well taken landscape will inspire someone to travel. A well taken landscape will put the viewer in the scene. This allows the viewer to escape, to heal. There are plenty of studies which demonstrate how effective a scenic photograph in a care setting can be to alleviate pain.

Landmannalaugar cotton grass
Reflected mountains and cotton grass at Landmannalaugar.

The act of photography is also very important. Photography is a healing activity and there has been much reported benefits of photography helping people with depression or other mental health issues. The act of taking photos helps the troubled mind by activating creative visual areas of the brain. Simply put – this gives the troubled vocal areas a rest. Much like meditation, photography puts you in the present moment. Away from the depression of the past and the anxiety of the future.

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Photography Business

It’s all very well taking photos for therapy, but photographers have to make a living as well. Sales and marketing campaigns are often driven by photography. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Any sales professional will tell you that they usually don’t even have a 1000 words. Twitter campaigns have to say everything in around 20 words. Social media has created a short attention span culture, so a photograph can be a very useful advertising tool.  Imagine a world where Amazon only described objects on sale.

Pirate ship San Fransisco
Photography – Capturing Moments in the past.

Significant Scenes

The War Photographer who in the dark room watching the faces of suffering emerge slowly on the photo paper.  All the horrors of war coating a roll of 35mm film which will be condensed to a single black and white photo on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper.  Photography wont let us forget.  Although the War Photographer is undoubtedly important, I often wonder if war performs for the cameras.  

Auditing Videos

Youtube has recently shown an increase in the number of public auditors.  Although their medium is much more ‘Video’ than photography, they are often demonstrating the right of people to take photos in public areas.  The popular auditors often have 100k + subscribers because it is very entertaining when the skilled auditor puts police offers in their places.  It is essential that police officers know the law and these Video Auditors certainly expose those who don’t.  For that reason, photo or video auditing is a very important public service. Though I often feel they can be antagonistic in order to get dramatic footage. Yo!

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By Tony Prower

Tony Prower spent over 15 years photographing the landscapes of Iceland. Tony Prower is a pioneer of the Magic Cloth Technique and ran thousands of photo tours in Iceland over 10 years.

1 comment

  1. There are thousands of photos taken, many are rubbish. Sometimes we take photo to remind us of a nice holiday. Sometimes it simply records some detail. Sometimes we take photos to improve ourselves. They are all different activities. The triad of equipment aptitude and occasion is always there but the balance in this triangle changes.

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