Greetings photography enthusiast, and congratulations on being part of the most exciting photographic experiment since people figured out how to fix images made of silver flakes on paper. Thanks to the collision of digital cameras and the Internet, you and I are living through the most remarkable and historic period for photography since its invention.
30 years ago, people consumed professional work mostly in magazines, newspapers and books. Occasionally they went to a museum or gallery, where photography was likely still treated as an immature medium for fine art. Exposure to amateur work was mostly limited to snapshots in physical photo albums or slideshows viewed in a darkened room. Unless you were a professional, you probably just didn’t see all that many photos in a given day.
Now, Facebook stores 250 million new photographs every day. Over ten million photos per hour. Our daily consumption of photographic images has increased such that “exponential” no longer feels like an adequate descriptive term. More importantly, we’re all making more photos than ever before, with practically everyone in the developed world carrying a camera 24/7 inside their cell phones.
And this superheated cultural stew has begun to throw off some truly remarkable things. Unknown amateurs surface from obscurity (and, sometimes, from beyond the grave) with work that stands among the masters. Those same masters are often highly accessible to the general public through blogs or Twitter. And new technologies and delivery systems, from photomanipulation tools to iPads are constantly shifting our expectations of what a photographic experience can be.
But every revolution has its guillotine. With 250 million photos a day to compete with, rising above the noise can be difficult. Worse still, with the image economy so flush in supply, making a living wage by making photos is harder than ever. Even established photographers need to be contantly on their toes and pushing forward to avoid being swept aside to make way for history. Luckily for us, that just means more great work is getting done.
It is American Photo’s mission—both in print and here on our brand new website—to be a guide to this truly exceptional and at times overwhelming moment. We’ll be showcasing incredible work as well as guiding you toward where to find it yourself. We’ll be looking at the unexpected ways photography wields its power today, and looking back to see how it was done in the past. It’s a truly exciting time for photography on the web, and we hope you join us as we jump right into it here every day.
A few usage notes: The big story carousel you see on top of the homepage is where we’ll stick our big features. Immediately below, you’ll find our latest news blog posts on what’s fresh and notable in the photography world today. Further down, you’ll find more features and galleries to peruse at your leisure. So what are you hanging around here for? Get back to that home page and dive in.
John Mahoney, Web Editor
PS: I want to hear what you think. Please dive into the comments section with your Facebook account, and feel free to email me with any specific thoughts, suggestions, or to show me some great new work!