How is photography changing the way we communicate?

In recent years, photography has become a primary means for storytelling, gradually gaining an edge on the written word. As social media changes the way we interact with each other, marketers have no choice but to jump on the visual communication bandwagon.

L&T recently teamed up with Libris by PhotoShelter for an evening of discussion on how these changes have impacted both the current state and the future of photography and visual storytelling. Read on for our highlights from the event.

Meet the Experts

Moderator: Olivier Laurent, Editor of Lightbox at Time Magazine
Panel Member: Peter Krogh, Photographer and Author of The DAM Book
Panel Member: Ben Plomion, Chief Marketing Officer of Gum Gum
Panel Member: Paul Melcher, Founder of MelcherSystem

What role does photography play in today’s marketing world?

The vast majority of marketers agree that images are the best way to communicate a value proposition. Laurent starts off the discussion by defining photography as no longer “just a hobby, but a language.” He asks the panel of experts to speak to the importance of photos in a world that relies heavily on this art for communication.

Krogh says the key to understanding photography’s role is to “deconstruct what is actually happening out in the world. We can look at photo as data, as a really effective means for communication on mobile, and we can look at the many different uses of photography. That’s going to help everyone who touches a photo figure out how to deal with it.”

How has the photography industry changed in recent years?

The photography industry has been rapidly evolving over the past decade, and will continue to do so. Plomion suggests one contributing factor, pointing out: “In 2012 the average consumer attention span was 13 seconds, and last year it was about 9 seconds.” It’s no wonder, then, that images — which can be digested in seconds — serve such a vital role in communicating to consumers.

Melcher says that as a result of our collectively shorter attention span, “visual storytelling is reduced to less and less frames, coming to the point where now it’s in one frame.” Social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook have facilitated this quick communication style to which we’ve now grown accustomed.

While Krogh agrees, he has a slightly different take on the evolution of the visual landscape: “I think we actually have this massive appetite for an unending number of pictures. Our ability to read images — rather than saying it’s an attention span deficit — I would say it’s an increase in visual literacy.”

One of the elements all the experts agree on is a change in format. “We’ve been using photography as a square image, and now we are starting to see GIFs…virtual reality with 360 and stills, etc,” explains Krogh. “The borders are not so defined and the messaging becomes even stronger because we can express so much more without being confined to a flat image.” It’s on marketers and professional photographers to embrace these changes moving forward.

What lies ahead for visual storytelling and photography?

Photography is a memory tool, a storytelling tool — and much more. For this reason, the panel agrees that the medium is not going to disappear in the near future. People are taking more and more pictures. In fact, visuals are even starting to replace text messaging as a means of communication.

Krogh reiterates that “photography is no longer silent, still, or disconnected. A lot of people are building on this connectivity. It is the way that an entire generation is speaking. I don’t think you can fight it, and I think it’s actually a wonderful thing, that this language is being pushed ahead.”

To learn more, check out the full recording of our event:

Longneck and Thunderfoot offer brand publishing services and strategies to transform your company blog into a sophisticated trade publication that drives visibility and influence in your market. Learn more about brand publishing here.

Author Shayna Robinson

A graduate of NYU’s Gallatin School, Shayna manages social media for clients across all industries, monitoring the effectiveness of our social campaigns, manages social strategy, and spearheads breaking news coverage and the development of original, trending story ideas. She previously worked in media production and communications at an NYC-based documentary production company. Her interests include cooking, making short films, and traveling.

More posts by Shayna Robinson