THE “WOW” 2016

Given the prevalence of photography, it might actually seem a little weird to put together a “best of” list of 2016 photographs; given that that’s almost like asking a whale to select which “best of billions of krill” it is going to sift through its baleens:- in short, there is an awful lot of stuff out there. According to a report on Deloitte Global:

… in 2016, 2.5 trillion photos will be shared or stored online, a 15 percent increase on the prior year.

90% of these images will be stored/captured on smart phones, which will probably surprise nobody. Neither will it surprise anybody to know, also according to Deloitte, that “The growing ease of creating and sharing images is arguably shaping the way people communicate. The speed and quality with which we can take photos encourages photos and videos to be substituted for spoken or written words. Also, increasing volumes of photos are being backed up because of the growing range of tools which enable this, at low or zero cost to the user.”

So, given that all of us – both amateur and professional alike – are looking for that “wow” moment, what value do we put on any one example of these trillions of images? How can we possibly decide what even has “value” any more?

Well… how about if we look at the images that professionals create, and use that as the end-of-year baseline? Just for one moment; forget all of the “wow” moments that amateurs make, all those selfies, those cool accidents, those meta-pics, those cool kittens, and all of the other folderol that makes photography so effortlessly and wonderfully and democratically available to all of us; and – just for that same one moment, like the snap of a shutter – surrender ourselves to the “best of” as dictated by those people who still actually do it for a living? And not, maybe, just for a monetary living; but because it’s what they have to do to live in the world? To understand it? And show us what we cannot see?

So, here’s to you, professionals, it’s time to take a bow; whether you be wildlife photographers, sitting in your tree huts on some godforsaken jungle, waiting days or weeks to get that perfect “Bornean orangutan scaling the rainforest” picture; or a photojournalist caught, simultaneously terrified and exhilarated in the melee of a political protest gone violent; or a fashion photographer racking their brains to squeeze out one last style wrinkle on how to ‘sell’ a teen anorexic catering an image to an older demographic without alienating them; or a sports photographer taking the perfect encapsulation of a stadium image that the 50,000 people in that stadium will all remember differently from a unique vantage point, but your version will enough for the witnesses to collectively share.

From the National Geographic to Harper’s Bazaar, from Sports Illustrated to Sony, from Time to The Week, and beyond: here are just ten links to the protean works of professionals, in all their manifold glories:

http://time.com/4308238/best-photojournalism-2016/

http://time.com/4233787/sony-world-photography-awards/

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/best-photos-2016/

http://www.topteny.com/top-10-best-fashion-photographers-in-the-world/

https://www.worldphoto.org

http://theweek.com/captured/610506/weeks-best-photojournalism

http://www.si.com/sports-illustrated/photo/2016/12/14/sis-100-best-photos-2016

http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/16/travel/travel-photographer-of-the-year-2016/

http://www.audubon.org/magazine/may-june-2016/the-2016-audubon-photography-awards-top-100

http://www.poyi.org

And (full disclosure, in the spirit of capturing something special, wherein amateurs can become professionals too) some of these links are to competitions. Which is how it should be. We are all working, whether in seconds or months, to capture that perfect image for that perfect time.

Deloitte Global report: https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/technology-media-and-telecommunications/articles/tmt-pred16-telecomm-photo-sharing-trillions-and-rising.html

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