Celebrating World Photography Day

August 2017

Taken from Apollo 8 on the first manned mission to the moon in 1968, ‘Eartrise’ is a photograph that wowed the world and showed – in spectacular fashion – the power of photography to capture a moment.

In the creative industries, photography has long been used as a tool for storytelling and artistic expression. On World Photography Day, we wanted to reflect on some of the impact photography has had over the years.

New boundaries

In the 1960s Andy Warhol showed the world that photography could represent more than a moment in time. Pushing the boundaries of both photography and art, Wharhol challenged us to interpret meaning, as opposed to having it prescribed to us.

Taken with a polaroid camera his family owned, his most famous photos were those that represented photography in its purest form. His images of some of the most photographed celebrities of the age, raw and unedited against simple white backgrounds, stood in stark contrast to his later work that manipulated simple portraits with layers of colour and contrast – an approach he termed ‘Pop Art’.

Shaping culture

In 1984, Jacobus ‘Co’ Rentmeester shot one of the most famous silhouettes ever for LIFE magazine. His image of Michael Jordon, soaring through the air, legs split like a ballet dancer and arm stretched to the stars, was later transposed by Nike as the ‘Jumpman’ logo, featuring on trainers, clothing and advertising campaigns across the world. Rentmeester earned just $150 for use of the iconic image.

Speaking volumes

Of course, alongside it’s artistic and commercial applications, photography played a vital role in documenting history throughout the 20th century.

Indeed, the truism that a picture tells a thousand words was never truer than in the case of Tank Man. Taken by Jeff Widener in 1989, it shows one man, standing in front of government military tanks in Tiananmen Square.

Like all the most iconic photos its impact is immediate, it poses as many questions as it answers and its effect is lasting.

The rise of digital

And so to today. In 2017 photography is woven in to the fabric of our lives. Following the rise of social media in 2004 there are more photographs taken and shared globally every year than there are people on the planet.

The exponential growth in photography afforded by digital technology (first digital cameras, then camera phones and smartphones) has made photography accessible to a greater number of people than ever before. With this, the language of visual communication has gained wider currency and the types of photography, photographic methods and messaging used for marketing brands has also evolved.

Nevertheless, the best technology in the world won’t turn a mediocre photographer into a great one. Nor, in conceptual terms, will it transform a bad idea into a good one. For that, you need a unique set of creative skills.

The missing P?

In our own industry, photography is respected as an art form as well as an essential tool in our creative toolbox. When powerful photography is combined with a strong proposition and good insight, there is nothing more memorable and compelling…

So today, whether you’re admiring the view from someone else’s perspective or creating memories of your own, take a moment to appreciate the power of that tiny lens in your pocket. And don’t forget to smile.