Masthead header

Why do we ignore advertising photography? A true story.

Advertising portrait photography of Andrée Cordella, Boston design superstar.So there I am, on a flight to Managua.  Not two feet in front of me, attached to the seat ahead, is a TV.  The TV teases me with trailers and 30 second human interest tidbits, and then announced that I can purchase movies or cable for the flight.  I notice that almost no one jumps at this offer.

And then I realize that no one else has turned their TV off. Up and down the aisle, a hundred TVs explode with their paroxism of quickly-edited advertisements and previews.

So what does this tell us?  That it takes more effort to push the “off” button on your armrest than to ignore commercial imagery, even when it stare at us in the face from every angle for 3 hours.

To those of us in the visual communication business, this is sobering.  Art directors, designers, and advertising photographers all make their living putting images in front of consumers.  But which images are seen and which don’t even register?

I believe the images that resonate are ones that get a visceral response, where we recognize a moment of authenticity.  If we can present a moment that is real and that is universal, we make a connection.

This is bad news and good news.  The bad news is that photographers and visual artists need to pay more attention to their subjects and be more empathic.  The good news is that the modern population isn’t visually dead, it just has discretion.