21 — Visual Saturation

We’ve been taking photos for about 175 years. Louis Daguerre, kicked off the craze doing long exposures out of his Parisian window — I wonder if he knew what an impact he’d have on us all.

Back then you would have had to prepare a copper plate with silver & iodine by hand, load it into a camera the size of bus and sit for 10-12 minutes just to capture a single image. Today everything is or has a camera; phones, computers, televisions, even fridges. We are inundated with image capturing devices ever-ready to capture any number of pictures.

Arguably the camera phone has had the most impact on the way we share the images we make . The first camera phone was by Nokia in 2002 & the iPhone was introduced in 2007. Today roughly 27,800 photos are uploaded to Instagram every minute & 1,736,111 to Facebook. About ten percent of the photos ever taken have been in the past 12 months!

Communicating through images today is fast & easy — with your smart phone you can tell the world where you are, what you’re doing & what you’re eating with just a few button presses. But has that cost us something?

Does the sheer amount of mundane images we see make good photos matter less?

Image 21 of 52

Visual Saturation - Saturation Photographed by Rick Nunn
Visual Saturation - Droste Photographed by Rick Nunn

A little Droste action for those that like that sort of thing.


  • Sam Hardacre

    Nice post man. I don’t think regular everyday photos make good photos matter less, quite the opposite. Good photos stand out in a sea of mediocrity :)

    That said, as a historical source I think the day-to-day photos will play an important part also in the telling of peoples stories in future. Every photo taken is a snapshot of a particular place in the world at a point in time which will never happen again. Just think of all the things we could learn of the past if photography was as easily accessible in Daguerre’s day :)

  • Yeah I think I’d disagree with mundane images watering photography down. I’d say that it makes them stand out. Furthermore, I’ve come across loads of people online who’ve never really had an interest in taking pictures, but have an excellent eye and produce really interesting results. The only thing that really grates on me is people who have like MYNAME Photography tumblrs and post photos from Hipstamatic on there, but I think that’s just a personal annoyance!

  • James

    I don’t think the recent trend of quick, throw-away photography devalues well taken photos. If anything it makes them more valuable. Finding a photo of artistic merit in the sea of shite is a rare moment which I treasure. What makes digital photography great is also its downfall in my humble opinion. Being able to shoot unlimited frames for little-to-no cost has stopped photographers from stopping, thinking and really composing each shot. I’m not saying I think we should all go back to shooting film at £1 per shot, but I wish there was some “cost” to every shot we took to make us really consider our photography.

  • How do you define ‘mundane’? Every photo I post on my instagram is one I find interesting. Sure, some are more interesting than others, but some days in my life are more interesting than others. Some people like~ images from a certain on my instagram, and some photos will receive no response whatsoever.

    I don’t think that makes good photos matter less. I like my mundane instagram photos, but I wouldn’t want to see them anywhere other than instagram. I wouldn’t print them out and hang them on my will, for instance. On my wall I’d pay proper money for a proper print of a photo that has had a far greater impact on me. A good photo, imo, is one that I would put on my wall and see every single day. I very rarely look back through my instagram feed. I look even less frequently at photos on facebook.

  • Dale Clark

    “Does the sheer amount of mundane images we see make good photos matter less?”
    I have seen a thousand buildings, a million times. But I would still stop and stare at the Taj Mahal.