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The photo generation

Regardless of what any teacher might say, there are two ways to become a photographer : take a lot of pictures and look at a lot of pictures. Everything else is secondary. And that is exactly what our teenagers are doing. In a recent study done by Facebook on teens and Instagram, “growing up in a visual world”, the social media giant reveals some very noteworthy information.

You complete me

32% of US teens consider Instagram the most important social media platform, far beyond Facebook ( 14%) or Snapchat(13%). With 300 million users, male/female composition split right in the middle (51/49), posting about 70 million photos daily, it is by far the dominant visual platform. And teens are eating it like candy, to the point that 53% credit instagram as helping them define who they are.  When was photography so powerful that it could help define someone ?

The platform holds unique appeal because it captures the immediacy of the moment, ignites creative expression and provides a connection to a likeminded community.
The platform holds unique appeal because it captures the immediacy of the moment, ignites creative expression and provides a connection to a likeminded community.
Before I go to sleep

63% use Instagram to document their lives, making  photography no longer a pass-time activity, a hobby, but rather another important function of their daily routines, like eating or sleeping. It is no longer an activity some choose to pursue based on a passion but rather an integral part of every day life. Most,if not all of it, is a socializing process, key to a teenager’s social development and understanding of community mechanism.  While they do not post daily- once a month is an average-, they do check it on a regular basis, 1/3 stating that it is the first thing they do in the AM, while still in the comfort of their  bed. Another 39% reveal that checking Instagram is the last thing they do before closing their eyes at night.

Universal Language

When this generation comes of age, they will have taken and seen more pictures than any preceding generations . They will have mastered the intricacies of light as well as become experts at using alterations ( filters, panorama, cropping, adding text). They will be highly skilled in knowing how to visually convey a message as well as deciphering messages of other. They will know better than anyone else the language of photography. While very few might decide to pursue a career in photography, the majority will instead continue to use photography as a core function of their daily lives.

Most important social media platform  for teens
Most important social media platform for teens

For anyone wishing to understand where photography will be in the next decades, these are the metrics to ingest. There will be no impactful communications without photography, albeit good photography. This generation will see right through blend, prefabricated visual content and be even more tuned to authenticity then what we are currently experiencing. Stock photography, as we know it today, will no longer work. There will be even less of a divide between the pros and amateurs and it will become harder and harder for anyone to pursue a long-term career in photography only, as everyone will participate actively in each others visual content experience.

The photo generation

Text only is rapidly disappearing as the only form of communication, replaced by visual media, be it photos and videos ( a 75% increase according to Facebook). In fact, platforms like Pinterest, Snapchat and even Whatsapp (450 million photos shared a day) are only confirming this trend, propelling photography as the number one universal means of communication, along with video, soon to be fully mastered by a teen generation bread and fed upon it. Knowing and understanding how deeply the next generation of consumers, decision-makers, and family builders are linked to photography will have a key impact on the success and failure of any business in the very near future.

Photo by Laura4Smith

Author: Paul Melcher

Paul Melcher is the founder of Kaptur. He is an entrepreneur, advisor, consultant with a strong background in licensing, copyright, sales, marketing and technology with more than 20 years experience in developing world-renowned photo based companies with two successful exits. Named one of the “100 most influential people in photography” by American Photo magazine.

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