When I wrote the description for this blog post, I wrote something to the effect of let’s make photography epic again. To be honest I have no idea why I wrote that. It just sounded kinda of epic. Like photography went in to a boring period and now its back. Under new management. A new era of photography and photo-sharing has arrived! That this is now the renaissance of photography. The Photography party has started! And you are invited! These were all the thing that phrase brought to mind.
But that is not what this blog post is about. This is about turning up the epic. What does that mean to you? To me I envision a volume dial labeled one to ten and trying to turn the volume up to eleven. But how do you do that with photography. Which in its natural form is still and peaceful? Of course exceptions can be made, I can think of a couple ways to make a photo stand out as chaotic and energetic. But Epic? How to reach that new level with photography alone? When I think of epic in films I think of the master minds like Christopher Nolan, the Wachowski siblings, the Coen brothers. In a-lot of ways they have a lot more to work with. With a movie they take two hours of your life to get you emotional invested into their characters and their world. It is this process that brings out the epic in the film. The overwhelming amount of emotion.
So how can you take what happens in film and reduce it to a single frame? Can it even be done? I sure hope so. I like to think I could produce a pretty epic photo series. Is there any one to look up to? What would Ansel Adams do? I look at documentaries like the Roosevelt’s by Ken Burns and I think maybe that’s the way to make photography epic again.
The Irony is that with films and TV scenarios are getting just plain ridiculous. We have films where the hero gets punched in the face 800 times, runs 5 miles, all without breaking a sweat. And that’s just the opening scene! Yet Documentary filmmakers like Ken Burns can create master pieces simply from subjects and relaxing and peaceful as the national parks.
Is this the age of the image however? Sure photography has never traveled so fast so much thanks to the marvel that is the internet. But do people enjoy photography more. Or just see more photography. I ask you try to count how many images you see just from an hour on the web. I honestly couldn’t even count how many images I go through just from my social media feeds. If I spent an hour of free time on the nets my estimation would go something like this:
20 min on tumblr = 160 images scrolled passed
15 min on Instagram = 200 images scrolled passed
20 min on Facebook = 220 images scrolled passed
5 min on google plus = 190 images scrolled passed
Now our on hour of trolling through the internet has gave us 770 images. Probably didn’t click on any of them. Just scrolled on passed. This hypothetical lead us to spend about 4.6 seconds of view time on each image before scrolling over to the next one.
Does this mean that the average attention span for a photograph is 4.6 seconds? Is that the half-life of a photo on the nets. 4 seconds of being judged then on to the next. Probably forgotten by the 770 other images that came after it?
Oh man I said make photography epic again, not depressed again.
Print however… that’s a different story. If I go to the Detroit Institute of arts or a local gallery. I’ll spend 40 seconds in front of an image. I’ll write the name down. Look it up online. Find out more about it. Buy the book with the image in it. Go through the book twice a month. Now the Photography half-life rises. Now photography goes from a mere 4.6 second life to a month to a year to years.
So maybe photography is at its most epic, turned to 11 when photography is physical. A print on a wall. A book in its shelf. Not competing with 770 images an hour on the net. When it is at peace in the real world in your world.