Search has changed photography, the very art of it, in a way that will never again be recaptured. And probably with very good reason.
The instantaneousness of the Google generation has made millions of images accessible to virtually anyone, suddenly changing the value of photography, professional or amateur.
Family and friends share photos across nations on Facebook, Google image search provides quick, cheap clip art, and even the most basic photographer can upload his or her images to stock websites. Availability is widespread, and permanently archived.
The world after Google has revolutionized the kinds of pictures that photographers take by dramatically changing the value of any shot.
Hence, the four basic kinds of shots in photography have evolved:
If you’ve ever attended a concert and watched hundreds of fans raise their cell phone or disposable cameras up in the air to get a shot of Jessica Simpson behind the microphone, you know a bland photo.
And if you’ve ever visited a historic monument like the Lincoln Memorial and watched tourists snap away, capturing every brick, plaque, and pillar, you’ve witnessed the bland disease.
In olden days, before photos in books or online access was commonplace, it was important for people experiencing something new to find a way to hold onto the moment and take it back home to share with their loved ones.
Today, people who take bland photos are wasting their time. In fact, it’s infinitely more important to enjoy the experience for yourself and let all of your senses thrill in the new or exciting environment, instead.
If your friends and family can find the same photo in an image search or a picture book, it’s not worth repeating history and wasting your valuable time to do it. Everyone knows what Jessica Simpson and the Lincoln Memorial look like. One’s soft and one’s rock-hard. They don’t need to see it again to be reminded.
And even though your cell phone may be capturing gloriously noisy three-megapixel shots of Jessica Simpson, it doesn’t mean that your shots are any competition to the professional photographers at the event using lenses that are disgustingly worth more than your car.
How can you escape bland disease?
The simplest way is to stick yourself, or a friend, in the shot.
Everyone may have a shot of the Lincoln Memorial, but no one has a picture of you sitting on Lincoln’s lap (and if they do, it’s probably photoshopped, and you might want to consider defriending them). Likewise, no one has ever seen a picture of you with your arm around Jessica Simpson. If nothing else, these photographs are more valuable to you.
But perhaps you want a shot that could prove valuable to more than your social circle. That’s where the unique shot comes in.
Perhaps everyone’s seen the Lincoln Memorial and Jessica Simpson, but how many people have seen the two together? Thanks to your Photoshop skills, they can.
But Photoshop seems a bit like cheating, after all, anyone can use Photoshop to replicate your masterpiece in a matter of minutes.
If you truly want to get a good original shot of exciting experiences now days, it’s pertinent to come up with a brand new, exclusive way to show it.
What can you do to make your picture different than every other shot that came before it?
Perhaps it’s shooting from an angle that no one else can get or putting your subject in an unusual shade of light.
Take for example President Obama’s historic inauguration. There were bleachers full of world-renowned professional photographers on either side of the president-elect as he was swearing in.
But the most magnificent shots to come from the inauguration were the most original, unique images: A 1,474 megapixel picture, and a unique shot of the presidential oath from the floor of the platform, with a glorious backdrop of the U.S. Capitol.
There were thousands of photographers capturing the Oath of Office for posterity in January 2009, but that’s precisely the problem. There were thousands.
It’s often the rare photographs that captivate our attention and impress our eyes the most.
Rare photographs are those amazing moments when you were the only one to capture something that may never be seen again. These are the most valuable images.
For example, raising the flag on Iwo Jima in 1945. It was a once-in-a-lifetime occasion and it was captured, you guessed it, once.
It could be a confused expression on a normally decisive celebrity’s face behind closed doors or it could be an X-Ray image of a whale.
Sometimes the subject doesn’t even matter because viewers will be captivated regardless. The images that win the Pulitzer Prize are shots that no one has ever seen before, shots that explain the world in a new and different way.