Staring at computer screens for extended periods of time has become an inescapable part of living in the digital age, condemning office workers to red eyes and artificial air. Interestingly, rather than attempting to escape the glow of a digital screen after office hours, we substitute our work laptops with mobile phones, smart TVs and tablets in our spare time.
And while there is a certain disconnect from the tangible world as we spend more and more time in the digital realm, Getty Images' director of visual trends Pam Grossman says that hasn't changed the yearning that people have for the natural world.
"The more digital we are, the more we long for the tangible. The more we’re required to sit in front of screens, the more we romanticize the experiential and the unplugged," she writes in an article published on Getty's website.
Grossman says that these shifts in our environment have impacted the aesthetic that dominates modern publishing.
"Just as the Industrial Revolution begot Romanticism in literature and art wherein creators elevated the outdoors to a level of transcendence, so our current age of pixels and multi-tasking is spurring on a new aesthetic based on an inward escape into the senses."
There is a greater demand now for imagery that connects with the viewer on a visceral level, and fortunately this is being facilitated through advances in the very technology that resulted in these feelings of disconnect.
Macro detailing, close crops, HD photography and extreme close-ups now provide a means by which viewers can be brought a little closer to something that is real or tangible.
And while this might seem like a slightly depressing indictment on the degradation of our society to one that lives vicariously through images, it must be remembered that those who occupy the digital space do so of their own volition. And given that brands often determine what is published on their sites, they are in a position to make the experience for these consenting visitors slightly more enjoyable through the aesthetic choices they make.
"Imagery that is up-close, personal, and visceral is alluring, because it makes us forget, if only for an instant, that we have a glowing rectangle between it and us," says Grossman.