Photography is the New Social Currency


chris-perez-headshot-squarePhotography is the new social currency.

It’s the evolutionary next step as the rate at which we exchange information increases and our attention spans shorten. Why send 140 characters of context on Twitter, when one can send at least 1000 words of it via a photo through Instagram or Snapchat?

A single photo can tell the world where we’ve been, what we value, what kind of access we have, and what kind of perspective we have to the world around us. Place that photo in a social media stream, and you get the added breadth of knowing how engaging and influential we are to the communities building around the 1×1 denomination (1×1 is the aspect ratio of an Instagram).

This phenomenon is how brands and empires have been built around Pinterest, and why we now have apps like Popular Pays (highlighted this month in our Tech Lives & Videotape section). Beauty and the ability to attain it has always been aspirational.

On the periphery, those who regularly transact through this new currency can seem self-indulgent or based in conceit. But when I asked Angie Krasnick (one half of the duo we highlight in this issue’s Instagram Featured Feed) her take on why the millennial class places such a value on portraits and selfies, she had an unexpected response: “I think we’re just more confident than ever, and we’re not afraid to show people who we are.” I believe she’s definitely onto something.

I come across more stories now than ever of people moving to Austin, or other destinations, without much more than a gut feeling and a strong sense of confidence that they’ll figure out a way to make it work. This philosophy and approach is in stark contrast from previous generations based on history, planning and systematics. And the curious thing? It’s working for them.

Those same people reacting and making decisions on a whim are quickly finding their place and defining their own success. Part of it is talent, but most of it is a fearless commitment to master the tools and technologies that enable them to connect. Through photos and through their devices, these individuals are finding their niche. People who take pictures of food hang out with other people who take pictures of food. People who take selfies at the shopping mall hang out with other people who take selfies at the shopping mall. People with 2000+ followers hang out with other people with 2000+ followers. And people who feel a sense of social mission hang out with other people who want to make the world better, too.

It’s not clear whether the new social classes that are emerging are any worse or better off than the ones before them based on monetary influence. But, I know that at least from where I sit, they do seem more rooted in positivity and collaboration.

The crowdsourced feature that debuts in this issue aims to be a microcosm of that community. A group of strangers gathered around to contribute and inspire others by sharing the things and places that give them joy. It was a delight for us to pore through the hundreds of contributions received through social media and email, and I hope it’s something that our readers find joy scrolling through as well.

A photo may be worth 1000 words, but a community of photos tells the tale of a new, inspiring generation.


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