How social media has changed the world of photography

 

If you told me 30 years ago, as I was beginning my career in Photography, that I would be telling a story on the Internet, I would have said, "What is the Internet?"

Unlike later generations who don't know life without it, my world was far more simple. Things changed slowly at first: microwaves, VCRs, Donkey Kong. I believe it was around 1981 when I first saw a personal computer. My employer at the time, Stephen Zwerling, bought one so that he could program multi-deck slide shows. I watched in amazement as he wrote a computer program to perform the task. A couple years later, he bought the Genie, made by Genegraphics -- a technology that was first developed in the 1960s for the American military and NASA, and then spun off into an application for presentations in the days before PowerPoint. 

"This is the future," Stephen had told me. I knew he was a visionary, and I was as much a fan of Star Trek as anyone. But I still couldn't grasp what he envisioned. Together, we used the Genie to make small clips for the CBC and other media agencies and in time, I grew to understand what inspired him so much. In our work we blended the world of photography, the principles of which hadn't changed in a very long time, with this new world of technology.

Fast forward 25 years. With the arrival of digital imaging, photography has changed in its fundamentals. Computers are now darkrooms, and cameras are computers. This changes how people capture images, how they learn, and how we service them and encourage their proficiency as a lab. In addition, the explosion of social media -- Facebook, twitter, online forums, blogs, and so on -- has influenced the photographic stage in a way like never before. Mentors, teachers, peers, advice, techniques, and tools are all merely a click away, every possible resource brought into the proximity of anyone with a laptop.

At Atlantic Photo, we're just as entranced with this new gathering place as our customers and photographers are. We're learning every day about making this technology work for us, just as Stephen Zwerling and I learned how to do the very same thing in the mid-1980s.

As a corporate entity, we are now a personality among a very large community. Our belief in who we are and what we do -- and how we do what we do -- is now broadcasted with social media. But one of the most revolutionary things we've learned lately is around that word: broadcast. Social media is not just an outlet, a place for us to talk about us. It's not simply an online brochure, a one-way megaphone. It's an ongoing conversation that generates inspiration and access.

Social media gives us a way to hear your stories as well as telling our own. Rather than just listing what we sell in the store, we get to share with you our admiration for people who do extraordinary things. We're happy to tell you about the inspiring work of our professional clients, the talented photographers across the Maritime provinces and the world whose creativity arrives through the Internet bound for ink and paper on our printers.

This is our community. The just-learning enthusiast, the fresh-out-of-NSCAD graduate, the nationally-recognized pro. With technology, we're able to feature all of their voices -- and it all gives us energy back.

How about you? How has social media and technology changed how you practice, refine, grow, and share your photography?