Photography Has Become Irrelevant

So here’s the question: Is photography as we know it irrelevant? Certainly the medium has become the every-man’s visual playground. It’s become something everyone does casually every day with the cameras (phones) they carry in their pockets. Overall, people are becoming more proficient in creating interesting and technically competent photos. That’s good for them and the people that look at their pictures. But with more than 1.8 BILLION photos being created and shared every day photos have become a commodity. There is very little magic remaining about that great shot posted on social media — it’s just another picture taken by your mother.

Certainly photography itself isn’t going away. But like all commoditized items its value has decreased to nearly nothing. Take a look at the stock photo catalogs that contain millions of photos. Adobe’s stock photo catalog alone contains more than 44 million photos. The chances that the photo you took that your friends went crazy over has already been done better by 1,000 other ‘photographers.’ At some point we are simply duplicating everyone else’s work and the originality and quality is only marginally different.

For those of us who take family pictures or photos of our vacations to document our personal experiences, certainly photography still has value, but that value is not monetary — it’s emotional. So when I say photography is irrelevant, I mean that it’s become less valuable in a commercial environment.

Presenting video to audiences has already proven effective. The Washington Post reports “In 5 years, 80 percent of the whole Internet will be online video” but making videos is expensive and time consuming. Inc. says, “Rather than spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, smaller companies can spend a just few thousand dollars and get quality video content that reaches their customers.” But even ‘a few thousand dollars’ is a big budget for smaller companies and even enterprises that want to create hundreds or thousands of moving images.

Inc. also mentioned short-form video content that can cost even less and be created easily. But traditional video is still not the answer.

Moving images get results

Invodo’s study of video tactics as long ago as 2014 found that 52% of marketing pros said video content produced the best ROI. And a study of what people looked at on web pages showed that moving images (video) got more attention than any other content. And including a video in email can boost open rates by 20% and increase click-through rates by 2–3x.

That’s all well and good, especially for increasing interaction with email except for one important fact: It isn’t possible to actually include video in email. Sure you can paste a still shot of the video for readers to click, and you can mention the word ‘video’. But no actual video can be displayed directly in an email.

So what’s the answer?
The simple answer lies in a technology that dates back to 1987 and the beginnings of graphic images on the web — GIF files. Since GIF files are actually considered to be still images it’s possible, even easy to embed a motion GIF image in an email. The problem is that creating GIF images has been something of a black art. That’s changed.

These images are ones I personally converted from still shots of local waterfalls to a motion GIF. (You can see more of my own examples here) It was one of my first attempts at using a SaaS based service called Plotagraph Pro that has changed the game in terms of creating moving images. I used a photo I shot a couple years ago and within 10 minutes created a moving image that I can embed in web pages and email.

I see this kind of technology as making a big difference in personal expression, but an even bigger one on marketing efforts as eyeballs are drawn to moving images.

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