For the most part, these photos are not designed to document an occasion. They have become a visual shorthand that is at once more emotionally resonant and more efficient than the words I might once have used to express the same ideas. This shift in the nature of communications will have a substantial effect on culture, business, and politics. It’s already reshaping entire industries from advertising to journalism to fashion. It’s powering political campaigns and will help decide elections. It’s changing the American approach to foreign diplomacy. It’s redefining art and our relationship with the cultural institutions that embody it.

via The Future of the Image: A series exploring the new visual literacy.

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  1. Jesse Hempel’s Fortune article has some valid points that seem a bit obvious. However, to make blanket statements that “No one has to be a good photographer to take good photos.” because of easy to use cameras is a misleading stance coming from someone who makes their living as a writer. This sort of thinking is a disservice to the thousands of talented photographers who actually earn substantial livings in a very challenging and competitive profession. An equivalent statement would be to say that word processing technology has made everyone into good writers.

    • Or to say that canned music has made every rock star/DJ wannabe into a household name! Oh but it has! It has created a culture of talent-less money grabbers who are made rich by unscrupulous marketers who prey on defenseless consumers who are no longer exposed to, or have any appreciation for true talent, be it writing, photography, or music, the 3 most accessible arts.

  2. Great article giving an overview on the current trend in communications. While the author’s conclusions might seem obvious, particularly to pro photographers who have found themselves recently awash in a sea of competing images; I found the two images taken at the Vatican sobering, stunning and enlightening. And while I agree with John Madere’s comment and sentiment, I do think that the technology has made cameras that allow almost anyone to take images that may not be necessarily good, they are unfortunately, good enough.

  3. I could make the same claims about the writer and he would be equally offended. There is more to my work that a point and click. We only hire the very best of the best to work in our studio and staying there is very competitive too. The talents of our photographers cannot be reproduced with a point and shoot, beleive me our programers and developers have tried!

    Sweeping comments that I could just as easily throw out like no one needs to be a good writer any more because we have MS Word and InDesign to format it is just as narrow minded and frankly wrong as saying today’s cameras can replace a professional.

    What has really changes is our standards. We now will accept so-so quality because its cheap easy and fun and the amateur gets to stick a creative toe into a creative field. Suddenly okay is good enough and perfection costs too much to some buyers.

    Like in many things automation, AI and smart gadgets have dumbed down us and our standards. As much as I love my smart phone I’ve yet to own a cell phone that sounded as good or worked reliably for decades as the old resin phone we still drag around that was made int he 50s. Of coarse now it’s age and design is considered high art!

  4. i like the ending statement : The future belongs to the visually literate. May you be among them.
    Technology is advancing & everyone with a phone can have a fairly high mega pixal camera, it still comes down to an understanding of light, an eye, composition. As with new technology in the hands of creative & artistic people, some images are bound to rise to the top. I am a firm believer it is the camera is a tool & some are more skilled than others.
    Apps, can take the place of using certain chemicals in the darkroom. It is evolution, we adapt or perish.

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