From films and digital portfolios to the never-ending scrolls of social media, photography has long fueled our imaginations, evolving in step with our technology and helping us distill a timeless version of reality.
Remember to flip through your camera roll. Colours, faces, landscapes whiz by. Photos have the power to transport you. And yet the goal remains two-dimensional, no matter how high the pixel count or how masterful the composition. So imagine the reality-altering effect of a photograph—and the memory it evokes—that you could revisit and revisit in its entirety.
Although highly speculative in its details, the metaverse shattered our understanding of interactive media and raised an existential question about the definition of photography itself. I’ve spent my career finding new ways to capture those unique moments and building software tools to help others do the same. Almost 30 years after I first appeared, I’ve never been more amazed at how technology is reinventing what we’re capable of. As the internet and the rise of photo-sharing apps accelerated the creation and consumption of photography, the metaverse has already begun to turn its mechanics upside down.
Free from the limitations of previous devices or even the laws of physics, photography in the Metaverse opens up a previously unimaginable freedom to explore light, color, perspective and output. In a culture of content creators anticipating the consequences of Web 2.0’s “Move Fast, Break Things,” this new digital frontier presents an opportunity to ask ourselves: How can we reclaim visual storytelling in a way that connects promotes? Which rules of artistic ethics do we have to rewrite? If we could do it all over again, what would we do better?
Metaverse photography will unleash a new creative category
Photography can and will become more than the still images we exchange today. With 3D layers embedded with sound (even smell), Metaverse photography will enable perception beyond the eyes and create a new category of art, a new kind of sensory experience.
It’s difficult to fully conceptualize the creative possibilities in such early stages of the metaverse, but consider a flight simulator for a moment. You are visiting an unknown world dotted with stars in highlighter colors. As you safely exit the cockpit, you’ll drift into the sparkling atmosphere and weightlessly capture multi-dimensional images with just your “eyes.” While a robust, connected experience of the Metaverse could easily be decades away, it has already begun to expand our vision for imaging and open the playing field to new breeds of creators.
The Metaverse will break down barriers between photographer and viewer
From shared digital spaces that serve as extensions of our own reality (think Floating shopping mall) to expanding existing multiplayer universes, photography will play a crucial role as a building block for new virtual experiences and as a bridge from one world to the next.
But image capture across layers raises unexplored questions about the relationship between photographer, photographer and viewer: Can you capture an image within an image? What do you call an image that mixes the real and the virtual?
While the way we capture what we see may change, our desire to remember, interpret and reinvent will remain, inspiring even more personal and immersive viewing experiences. Metaverse photography not only opens up new possibilities for creative expression, it also offers new ways of communicating and connecting, whether you are an artist or art collector, a client or a brand. Photographers will have the power to transport viewers, and viewers will become participants in the photos they consume.
The decentralized art economy will bring risk and reward
One of the most exciting things about photography in the Metaverse will be the opportunity for new artists to stake their claim in the space and for existing creators to reach new audiences.
I recently spoke to a friend and fellow photographer Tobi Shinobi, which provided a helpful perspective. “Instagram went so far as to democratize the creative industry for people like me who probably never thought of getting into photography,” he says. “Web 3.0 has taken this democratization to the next level. It democratizes the platforms themselves.”
“Right now, you can build your own community,” adds Shinobi, reflecting on the explosion of NFT creators on his network. The increasing attention to digital art has already accelerated the emergence of new entrants who now have independent channels to generate royalties unencumbered by the algorithms or terms and conditions of today’s dominant social platforms.
That said, there are certainly some potentially frightening implications of a decentralized web.
This wild west of photography, including the transfer of real-world images into virtual dimensions, requires us to rethink the fundamental rules of the art form. When we start to understand Complexity of NFT copyright laws, we have to wonder what the metaverse watermark will look like. Creators and platform leaders need to renew consent rules when our cameras become invisible and even rendered scenic backgrounds become a protected subject.
We still need broad education on the definition of token values on blockchain platforms, the distinction between owning and owning art, and the refinement of asset verification tools such as e.g Credentials for Photoshop content for any creator who wants to protect their work.
For 200 years, photos have given us a glimpse of new experiences and perspectives, and we have a chance to use what we’ve learned and build a better platform for that exchange. Despite the many unknowns, I remain hopeful as we look to the future—imagining how the metaverse will revolutionize photography and how photography will help visualize what the metaverse can become.
Bryan O’Neil Hughes is Director of Product Management at Adobe and has been a professional photographer for nearly 30 years.
https://www.fastcompany.com/90736185/how-the-metaverse-will-reinvent-the-art-of-photography?partner=feedburner&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feedburner+fastcompany&utm_content=feedburner How the Metaverse will reinvent the art of photography