It is amusing to see that the photography world, especially those who persist in shooting for commercial stock, have yet to use the tools around them.
Up the now, the only intelligence gathering tool that has been used ad-nauseum, has been the mighty Excel sheet with pages of past sales. Does a past criminal has more change of killing again than someone who has never committed a crime ? If you answered yes, your the excel type, if you said no, read on.
Science, as we all know, has progressed by leaps and bounds. We all learned how we see light and color, something that has taken our scientists a very, very long time to understand. But then, we drop science, pick up our cameras, and rely on our spreadsheets to predict what will sell.
Why not continue to piggy back science ? How do we understand information, what are the colors that make us react, the shapes. Sure, it takes a lot of reading of different aspects of scientific discovery, but aren’t photographers humanist at heart? Well, at least those with a heart instead of a wallet. Sociology, psychology, brain theory, history, anthropology, all those are fields which should be under heavy surveillance by all photographers, and photo agencies agency.
For example, recent study in brain theory ( you known, the reason why our brains does what it does) suggest that our brain is entirely geared in trying to predict what will happen next. It uses our senses, plus our memory, obviously, to make an assessment of our current situation and quickly predict what to expect next. In another way, our brain dislikes surprises..
How does that affect photography? Well, here are some suggestions. If the brain constantly tries to predict, than it will quickly pass over banality ( what it considers will not change) and focuses on the unknown and /or the potentially versatile. Thus unpredictability will catch our attention much more than the obvious. Mostly because our brain functions will try to analyze and process the situation in order to figure out what will/could happen next.
Photography should then be the art of catching the unpredictable (or suggesting it) . Not forcibly in the actual frame that is seen, but sometimes in the next one that is hinted. Thus, putting the viewers brain in a state of forced analysis of the situation it is seeing and provoking a thought. Or many. This will force the viewer to use past experiences, knowledge, memories, emotions to attempt to reconcile the photograph with a possible outcome. It can also be an emotional outcome.
Think about it. Look at the images that have striked you the most and that you like the best, and based on what you have just read above, see if it applies. Are those photographs your favorite because they provoked a sense of unpredictability that you were forced to reconcile with your knowledge of the world at that time ?
This is just an example of how current scientific advances are of tremendous help to our trade. There are many, many others. Those who are interested in perfecting their art should drop the business manuals, their keywording manuals and the SEO handbooks and should rather pick up any books related to human science.