May 1, 2022
Richard Sibley gives us his perspective on how to grab attention as a photographer in a crowded market.
I was afraid that the memories from the depths of my brain would disappear forever. I needed to overcome the resistance. I took a long, deep breath and closed my eyes. My index finger has grown.
They were gone.
And that’s how I cleared my Adobe Lightroom library, but this article is all about getting attention.
I’m currently reading Stein on Writing, by Sol Stein, and it struck me that many of his thoughts on grabbing a reader’s attention in the first paragraph also apply to a photograph. . Researchers from the famed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that the fastest humans could recognize an image was as fast as 13 milliseconds. This is equivalent to seeing a single frame of a video playing at 71 fps. Humans are able to pick up visual information, literally, in the blink of an eye.
This partly explains the massive amounts of images we can consume in our day-to-day lives, almost unknowingly.
Think about the time you spend looking at an image – time it mentally. Glance at the cover of a newspaper or magazine. The preview when you walk past a billboard. Scanning a phone screen. Wait. To return to. Did you actually see the billboard image in the first place, or do you have your head down looking at your phone?
I probably spend less than a second looking at the majority of the images on my Instagram feed. Just a few years ago, it was exciting to see amazing landscape images of new places I could visit. Now platforms like Instagram become a perfect feedback loop: we see the location, take the location, share the photo, another photographer sees the location, they take the location, share the image and the cycle continues. I guess my Instagram feed is the same as that of the vast majority of photographers – full of images that would have been hailed as amazing 20 years ago and are now just generic due to our exposure to them.
How do you attract attention as a photographer?
So how do we get people to actually stop and look at the images we take? The answer is obvious, and Sol Stein asks a question that sums it up nicely: “Do we look in wonder at the nice, average, normal people we meet on the street?
With such overexposure to images, you really need to produce photos that are somehow exceptional, or surprisingly different from the norm. Both require hard work and creativity, or luck.
But, unless photography is your way of earning a living, don’t worry about attention or lack of attention. The amazing creative puzzle, mental exercise and physical practice is the real fun of photography, not the number of eyeballs in your images.
The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of Amateur Photographer magazine or Kelsey Media Limited. If you have an opinion you would like to share on this or any other photography-related topic, email: [email protected]
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