Does Photography Influence our Lives?

Photography is a form of artistic expression and the ability to capture an image that we have seen with our eyes. Through this I’ve noticed the volume of images that surround us in the modern world and thought; do these images influence our actions? If so do they do it subconsciously? Or do they just flutter past our eyes, without any consideration? Every day you see newspapers, you see flyers and even billboards. I believe that in a world which has been made so small by man the use of imagery is playing a big part in what I believe has become a dreamer society: We as human beings have developed into a stage where we love to dream about what could have been. People’s sense of importance has dropped; we linger around the ideas that we need to ether impress or entertain one another with stories or pictures. We thrive off one another and quite possibly influence one another to try making our mark. We think a lot about things: So do you think we are influenced by photography and images? Or do you believe we are influenced by other means?

You are walking down Buchanan Street; fashion brands on either side of you, all of these stores have posters in the windows and some woman is modelling the clothes on the poster. Consumers are walking past, looking at how good the clothes look on her and contemplate ether to go in and buy/try or browse. At this point the photography that has been taken for that clothing brand has instantly influenced the public to make a decision to enter the store or not. Though has it just influenced them to purchase clothes? If you look at the current state of overweight issue’s in Glasgow alone you see how badly the cities overall lifestyle is. Seeing models that are a size six in waist advertising these fashionable clothes on the high street and looking down upon the general public who a high percentage is at least a size ten to twelve. You begin to think how people react to that; do they become self-conscious? Do they make a promise to themselves to lose more weight? An influence is not always positive. Another aspect of influential photography could deal with the more optimistic side of life. People use photography as a tool for stress relief; it’s a way in which can be self taught, used as a hobby, a way to look at life and the world with a different perspective. If someone has a high pressured job then taking time to stop and look at the world through the lens of a camera can feel like an inner satisfaction. This is where I make the point of photography as being an artistic way to communicate to the public; you get to show them how you look at the world. This brings me onto one of the most influential photographers of our time and the for photographers general public alike, Ansel Adams.

“Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution. – Ansel Adams

Adams inspired generations of photographers through his outstanding documentation of a lot of the American landscapes. He showed the world at that time period where he came from and how beautiful nature could be. So we can look at several influences here. One being aspiring photographers or artists who thought about taking on the medium. Two; being the public giving them an appreciation of the wilderness hopefully making some naturalists out of them. The quote above Adams refers photography as an:

Infinite variety of…Interpretation

He is discussing the opinion that photography as a medium is used as a communicative tool to give an interpretive view and almost an opinion on a subject through the use of imagery. We as people have different thoughts and a theory of every discussion that is asked of us, it is what makes us unique and who we are. The same goes to art and creativity, we interpret it with individuality; Photography influences those decisions of our own, regardless if it is a political, expressive or for self-improvement. We imagine ourselves being in the location shot say by Adams, we imagine ourselves overall healthier with our diets and bodies and we imagine ourselves happier. Photography has embraced our society with moral equivalence. Effecting two sides of us, it can affect us positively by showing us what we want or where we want to be but then our state of mind can be different and people look at it differently. We could become self-conscious or depressed because it is not where we are at now.

Now, to say that Photography as a medium is not influential to the general public can be argued but have we reached the stage in society that there is so much of it that it does not have as big an impact? When looking through news updates like Yahoo or the Guardian we see photographs of civil war in Israel and Iran and photographs of people injured or even dead are being shown. Though the image of war has become so conventional to us that when we look upon photographs of explosions, guns, protests and general violence it does not impact us the way it would have twenty to thirty years ago.  We also see the everyday struggle of people living their lives or trying to seek almost some sort of salvation, a better quality of life. For instance there was an image of Kosovo Refugees in Albania by Carol Guzy, which involved a two year old boy being given through a barbwire fence who was being passed through to his family. You see how dangerous it is to do something like that, yet it was the only way to get the boy back to his family. The image itself has a slight impact but not to the extent that it is shocking, it is viewed upon as if it is nothing special that it is once again people struggling to get by. Now this does not mean that people have became selfish and tolerant to the idea that “it’s not me so I don’t care”, It has just reached the stage that the news has been flooded with imagery like this for years that we have become accustom to the knowledge of the hardships people go through.

The youth have been brought up in this world where it is constantly bad news. The profound notion of war and hardship has become traditional to us to look at on photographs or film when we are watching the news or reading the tabloids.

The power of photography I believe definitely is not underestimated in today’s society it has traveled through the ages as a way of communication to each other, letting others know what is out there, what is happening in the world and showing off our accomplishments. When we speak of the idea that it is influential; I think it still has the power to shock people but I believe it has to be a photograph that conveys the right sort of message or has the power for people to be able to make a connection with it. Without a connection then it is just another photograph and it will be overlooked without any consideration.


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