My biggest struggle with photography is that pictures have been so devalued. There was a time when every picture had a cost. A roll of film had, at most, 36 frames. Days passed between when we pressed the shutter and saw what we actually got. People spent time thinking about, looking at, and discussing the ideas photographs conjure. Now there is virtually no cost to taking a picture. We see it instantly, and we dismiss it seconds later. We have a different kind of “Me Too” movement in photography. People photograph what they’ve seen before. Thoughtless observation is passed off as insight. Photography has become a performative social ritual. Don’t get me wrong – powerful photographs are still being made, even with cell phones – but an onslaught of throwaway snapshots obscures their existence. So the photographers’ challenge is to find footing in this new landscape. How do we remain relevant? How do we make people spend time with our work? Why should they pay attention to what we are saying?
Viewer engagement is critical. But how does one achieve that??
Engagement with an audience is a byproduct of engagement with one’s subject.