Are Your Photographs Transient Or Permanent?

Denver Skyline from 2010

When you make your photographs, are you photographing subjects that are transient or permanent?

What I mean by this is, will your photographs be dated in the future, losing their sense of relevancy over time, or are your images more or less timeless.

Personally, I tend to look for permanency in my compositions. For example, when I photograph a moose, that photo is generally not going to give you a sense of when it was made. Moose and their habitat will generally look the same no matter when the photo was made. A 10 year old moose photo looks pretty much like a 10 day old moose photo. It’s a permanent representation. I tend to make landscapes with a permanent point of view as well.

Take the photo above though. It’s a photograph made of the Denver skyline in 2010. It’s similar to the Denver skyline of today, but it’s dated. The “Quest” logo on the tall building doesn’t exist today. There are more buildings in today’s skyline too. This photograph may have a small historical value, a snapshot in time, but it is transient. Things have changed. It doesn’t represent the now. Travel photography is another consideration as well. Most tourist destination images that depict human made structures have a shelf life. Mountain peaks and other natural landscapes don’t.

If you are trying to sell your photographs, think about rather or not your composition is transient in nature or permanent in nature. Permanent images have a much longer shelf life and you can make more money from them over time. A transient photograph is going to become obsolete for most uses as time moves on.

To be successful in the long run, you should have a purpose to your photography. Don’t just photograph pretty things.