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  • Writer's pictureJo Sutherst

Sustainable Prospects – It’s Magic!

“Photography is a form of magic – or to put it another way, the photographic provides cerebral experiences for the viewer that are equivalent to magic. Just as sleight of hand facilitates, but does not fully materialize, the magical experience that resides in the dynamic of our own imaginations, so too photography . . . can spark the occurrence of magic in our minds.”

– (Cotton, 2015: 3)

So, according to Cotton, photographers are like magicians.  They use their creative skills to tap into the viewer’s brains and into how they interpret images.

By understanding how the psychological systems of their viewers function, photographers can become aware of the viewer’s perceptions and thought processes. These perceptions and processes are grounded in the visual culture that we all share. Understanding this is pivotal for the design of work that will attract viewers. The visual culture may vary from continent to continent and this needs to be considered by the photographer. Individual and different visual cultures will result in different interpretations of the work.

Our world is constantly changing. Our visual influences, social structure, fashions and economics have all developed over the last century and have had an impact on the way that photography is produced and disseminated.

Photography has developed both stylistically and technically during this time. Cameras have become smaller, faster and have a higher resolution. Retouching and manipulation software have enabled Recent mobile phone camera developments on phones such as the new iPhoneX have opened up the world of creative photography to many more people.

The success of photographers today is determined by how well the work they are producing is interpreted by the viewer. Creating work that the viewer engages with and has an emotional response to, will improve the chances of success of the images. With an ever increasing range of opportunities in the public sphere for photographers to get and display work, there is more diversity in the medium than ever before. Photographers need to connect with their audiences in order to get noticed in the sea of photographers.

Along with this, the photographer now needs to fully immerse themselves in the “channeling of the pervasive impact that the Web, social media, and mobile imaging technologies have had on the ways we make, consume, and understand visual culture” (Cotton, 2015: 17). Developments in this area have really opened up the channels in which the photographer’s work can be disseminated and viewed.


Cotton, C. (2015). Photography is magic. New York: Aperture Foundation.

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