It’s all about photos

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Out of all the work experience that I have, almost half of it has been into photography industry now — a category that has really exploded in last decade, a category in which you literally have to be on your toes in case you want to make a mark, a category that has gone through unimagined consumer behavior changes at an unimagined pace. We all are clicking, clicking all the time, clicking anything & everything!

My work also involves meeting photographers and consumers who are looking to hire photographers on a regular basis and at times the kind of insights that I get by just observing or casually interacting with them is mind blowing.

The trend of getting life events photographed or preserving our unique moments as photographs has been existing since centuries but there is something now because of which photographs and photography are as much part of our lives as food and sleep.

Thanks to social media, it will be safe to say that now we humans literally eat, breathe and live our lives through photos. This is something that we all know of but at times certain incidences just make this realization starker!

Last week I was interacting with a young bride-to-be who was looking to hire the “best” wedding photographer for her wedding. She belongs to a small town where her family has already hired a local photographer. But she was still insisting to know the availability of one of the biggest names from the industry and was willing to pay anything to get her wedding clicked by him. She’s been working only since last year but has been actively saving to hire the “best” photographer for her big day. Since I know her background personally, I casually inquired — “don’t you want to invest this money into something else like some designer bridal dress or jewellery and makeup?” Pat came her reply, “no, I would rather spend that money in hiring a great photographer who will make me look “best” in my photographs irrespective of what I wear. What’s the point of looking good if the photographs won’t come out well? It’s the photographs that will be seen by all on Facebook & Instagram later.

Hmmm, so:

Looking “best” for real on your special day isn’t that important now, looking “best” in your “photos” for virtual world definitely is!

Few days back, it was my son’s first annual day in his school and we of course were thrilled to see him on stage. Despite arriving much ahead of time, we could only manage to get one of the last rows in that large auditorium. Parents were given a pair of ribbons while entering the auditorium that we were supposed to wave as per the color instructions to be given by the MC later. This was planned by the organizers as part of the aqua life themed dance by our kids and they wanted the room to be full of colorful waves. Performance started with multiple announcements that an official photographer is covering the event and we should sit back, enjoy and participate wholeheartedly. Then came the instruction to wave the ribbons with our both hands up — hardly a few hands went up. Yet another announcement to wave right and then left — not even 50 hands in a crowd of hundreds! Reason? Hands were occupied with cameras and mobile cameras trying to capture the show. Most of the eyes were viewing the performance through lens or on screens. Why was I able to notice it? We were sitting so behind that our mobiles were not able to capture anything. So, me and my husband decided to keep our phones down and enjoy the performance for “real”. If I would have been seated ahead, would I also have watched my son’s first kindergarten performance through virtual screen despite being present in the moment? I am afraid to say, perhaps yes! That day observing the number of screens up in the air instead of those colorful handmade ribbons made yet another stark realization:

“Experiencing the special moments for “real” isn’t that important now, capturing it for sharing in the virtual world is”!

I was out for my regular morning jog recently to a nearby lake accompanied with a friend & her teenage daughter who wanted to get into the habit of walking daily. This lake has beautiful birds and a gorgeous sunrise view. Generally the first timers get into that urge of clicking that beautiful place (confession: even I have clicked pictures of that lake earlier :)). So, not surprisingly her daughter was actively clicking almost every spot and taking selfies at different angles here and there. We had to stop after every 2–3 mins to manage her pace. Then she wanted to post it at that time only as she wanted to update her friends about the healthy start of her day :). We waited as she got glued on to her screen. After waiting for few minutes, her mother irritatingly told her to finish it soon while we complete one round and that she must run with us in the next round. We completed one round but she wasn’t still done. I asked her if the internet signal is weak at that spot. She replied with eyes fixated to her screen, “no, I am not able to decide whether to choose Gingham or Amaro for my filter, last time I chose Juno and it didn’t give me that many number of likes”.

“So, it’s no more about good images or filtered view of your life, it’s about “that” view of your life that gets liked and appreciated more by others in your virtual world”.

Photos, Perfect Photos, Best Photos — it’s all about photos now!

It’s now the prime mode of language for many!

Is it normal? Is it impacting the generation psychologically? Well, that’s a separate discussion all together but for now, looks like this deluge of visual content in our lives is going to be there for sometime.

And this definitely impacts the life of the marketer in me. Why & How? Well, will be back on this in my next post soon :).

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