There are many faces to image enhancement, some as old as photography itself. Just as poets, musicians, and novelists influence the mores and social sensibilities of a culture, photographers push the mood of societal attitudes with the same persuasive force. Some pictures come as gentle and suggestive mental nudges while others blow through the senses with the offensive force of a sledge hammer.
The photographer wields the most powerful and influential tool in any culture. For good or bad, it’s manipulation. Photography is today’s emotional shaping tool that can either be used to shape or distort social behavior.
The influence of photography on a society is psychology 101 and this psychological prybar changes attitudes and behavior more than it changes fashion. The power of change is driven by the intent to change the social conscience with fear or hope, dread or aspiration, discontent or satisfaction. Influence affects society with the simple mind altering drug called imagination.
Influence vs Infringement.
John Lennon challenged just about every accepted societal standard of politics, culture, and religion with music, by suggesting that accepted socio-religious standards be replaced with new age consciousness in his song Imagine. Freedom of expression is a human right and entire generations are shaped by the poets and balladeers of human change. The younger generations are always the more pliable targets for “evangelism” of all varieties. Writers, Poets, Musicians and Artists of all sorts each wield weapons of social change. In each case, the medium is merely the vehicle; the driver is the mind of the individual.
Societies have been influenced by dreamers and visionaries throughout history. The “follow me, I’ll take you to the promised land” is a very common theme used by some very uncommon leaders. Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, Hitler’s Mein Kampf, Mao’s Little Red Book, MLK’s “I have a dream” speech have each influenced masses of people. Anybody with a dream, a passion, and a social pulpit can alter beliefs and attitudes. Imagination, influence, innovation, and individual all start with the all powerful “I.” Now, with the Internet, you too have a pulpit. What will you do with it?
Shaping Visual Perception.
Casting a vision is hardly a new trick; it is as old as man himself and it has been used and abused within every culture since the very beginning. From charlatans to visionaries and from P. T. Barnum to Jesus Christ, public expression has long been the turnstyle that alters human behavior. But for the first time, this political/social power is now in the hands of every individual, for commercial, personal, religious, political, and financial power and gain. How this influence will be used by each individual will reveal something of the color of one’s soul, the shape of his character, and the force of his conviction.
Clarity is Shedding Light… literally.
Altering a mood with images (another “I” word) isn’t that difficult, all it requires is a knowledge of image editing basics or one of many current pre-fab software packages available on any platform. The mood of a photo can be set with a couple of clicks and sliders. Emotion runs highest in black and white images even more than color images.
Tonality influences visual perception and sets the emotional interpretation. Simply moving the middle tones into the three-quarter tones changes the message. Don’t settle for good enough when with a little effort, you can clarify a poor image and reveal the beauty within. There are no presets that can rescue a poorly captured image, but a little common sense and a couple of minor adjustments will turn a dull statement into an attractive shot. Use your skills to help people see the best in everything.