Web Clicks: From Completely Connected to Totally Disconnected

Web Clicks: From Completely Connected to Totally Disconnected


Have we all become so completely connected that we have actually become completely disconnected?

As we welcome in 2015, it’s an interesting question to ponder, particularly for those of us in the imaging industry. While the news that people are taking more pictures than ever, and have been for many years now, is exciting, it’s also a bit troubling that the notion of capturing memories today is more about just recording moments and not so much about truly experiencing them.

Back in the day, and I’m not traveling back further than a decade or so, capturing life’s precious moments wasn’t about recording them to simply say we were there. It was more about being engaged in that moment, and the photo was a means by which we could someday fondly recall the moment.

There is strong evidence, however, that in today’s mobile world we are recording moments for the sake, of . . . well, recording the moment. Stills and videos are posted to social network sites with a quick “look where I am” mention and it’s on to the next “look where I am” moment.

It appears, for many folks, the definition of real memories versus mere moments has gotten lost in the mobile shuffle.

“I think a lot of it has to do with the need people feel today to document everything they experience,” began New York-based photographer Jim Cummins. “Back in the day when we would capture only the most special moments, it was easier to handle and manage your memories. When you are documenting what you ate for lunch and the latte you’re having at Starbucks, it is simply blurring the lines between special memories and mundane moments. And yes, to a certain extent, smartphone tech and social media are at the heart of this.”

While hardly a new dilemma, it does appear as though it gained some significant steam in 2014, as Yahoo tells us that nearly one trillion photos were snapped this past year—equal to a quarter of all the photos snapped in the first 170 years of photography’s existence. Wow! Let’s not even get into how many of them were probably selfies . . . ugh.

Self-Expression Era
As a retailer who deals in memories, what’s your play here? On the one hand, we all keep hearing how great it is that all this pointing and clicking has been going on as people the world over have fallen in love with taking pictures. But, not unlike that famous tree that falls alone in the forest, the silence for many photo dealers has been deafening. Simply stated, all the images that live in smartphones and on Facebook, Instagram and the like aren’t exactly lighting up cash registers around the country.

“We are living in a time where consumers have become visual creators,” added mobile marketing guru Lauren Sosik. “They are expressing themselves, their individuality, through their images. It’s not that the memory doesn’t matter; it’s just that their photography is more about self-expression, and anything they perceive as potentially catering to this self-expression is hugely interesting to them.”

An interesting thought to ponder and one that lots of folks out there are taking advantage of. As an imaging dealer, you may want to take a closer look at some of the ways in which they are tapping into this seismic shift in photographic behavior.

Have you seen the Selfie Stick? Yeah, a pair of 31-year-old businessmen used a special attachment to stick a smartphone at the end of a monopod, and a few months later they can’t keep up with the demand.

And, staying on the selfie insanity for a moment more, there are now more than 1,000 selfie apps on the iTunes App store. Most are photo-editing related for quick facial fixes, like removing blemishes and such, or even adding a line of text.

Visual Creators

It’s time to wrap our arms around these “Visual Content Creators” and begin to better understand their thirst for recording “moments” versus “memories.” If people are plucking down upwards of $40 for a Selfie Stick, surely the photo industry can get them to pull out their wallets to turn some of their best selfies or those aforementioned “moments” into prints—or magnets, mugs or perhaps even a mini photo book.

We’ve written in this space in the past about the fact younger consumers are beginning to discover the joys of printed pictures, once they’re finished photographing their lunch or themselves consuming it.

Perhaps these are “memories” after all and, for this generation, maybe everyday is memorable. Despite the fact some folks may be overdoing the moment-to-moment documentation, today’s Selfie Stick-captured snapshot may be tomorrow’s collage of “our day in the city.”

Totally connected or completely disconnected is not fodder for anyone to really determine just yet. Making sure every image has a chance to become a “lasting memory” is still worth chasing, however.