Posted by: lbrooksd | October 18, 2010

The Power of Photography

This is slightly off topic, but too cool not to share:

This is a TED video in which David Griffin, the director of photography for National Geographic shows some incredible photos and talks about the stories behind them.  I have been thinking a lot about the role that photography plays in current society now that it has both video and audio to compete with, and this quote from David Griffin caught me:

“Photography carries a power that holds up under the relentless swirl of today’s saturated media world, because photographs emulate the way that our mind freezes a significant moment.”

Is it possible that in today’s chaotic and overstimulating culture the simplicity of a still image carries more weight than a moving, talking, video clip?  Just some food for thought, and also the photographs he shows are so incredible, it’s worth watching just for those.


  1. I think the question you raise is a compelling one, and I would argue that a still image could definitely carry more weight than a video clip, though perhaps for the opposite of the “simplicity” that you posit. Whereas some videos move so quickly that viewers miss the details, an image allows one to gain a very particular type of depth. You can watch a video again and again, but you can stare at one image, picking up on each detail, reflecting on every element. (In other words, videos may be wider in their scope, but unless rewatched, many details may be lost, leaving the viewer with a simpler conception than if faced with an image.) At the same time, although I’m not sure that I would deem images overly simplistic, I see why you chose the word; I agree that images do carry weight in a chaotic and overstimulating culture–they allow us to slow down (and to see motion slowed down), they allow us to focus on one sense (vision) without distracting elements (namely, sound). [Sorry this post is so indecisive–I’m not trying to be finicky about word choice, because I both do and don’t agree with the idea of images as simplistic.] Lastly, I know that memory works completely differently for different people, but images stay in my brain more clearly than videos, so on a personal level, I would say that, yes, in certain situations, I think that images definitely carry more weight than videos. I really liked the quote you used–that photographs emulate the way our brain works, freezing significant moments–it links media with psychology in a really interesting way.

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