The Burrito Test

“Burrito and Red Rocks” (Exclusive edition: 48X72 signed at $10,000,000)

Each day, those of us who spend any time on the internet are inundated with images. I would guess that I see anywhere from a few dozen to hundreds of photos on social media each day. Popular images rack up hundreds if not thousands of ‘likes’ and shares, and more than a few photographers judge their success by the number of followers or views that their photographs garner.

This is an example of how imagery, and especially artistic photography, has been devalued by the internet, thanks to sheer volume and availability. Before the internet, most images we saw were in magazines, books, and in (gasp) physical galleries.

Ansel Adams once famously stated that “twelve significant images in one year is a good crop”
Yet, today’s crop of internet photographers would have you believe that at least two significant images a day is easily attainable—because, apparently, two posts a day is optimal for social media engagement. 🙂

To explain why it is socially acceptable to not canonize every photo we see online, I came up with a simple test: The Burrito Test.

The ‘Burrito Test’ is easy to apply. Given any photograph, would you rather have a free ready-to-hang 8X10 print of the photo, or would you rather have a burrito?

If you’d rather have the photo, then it is significant. If you’d rather eat the burrito (which, personally, for me would be about 99.9% of the time…) then, while the photo might be superficially pleasing to the eye, its value to society or to you personally is minimal.

Imagine a world where only significant photos, those that pass the burrito test, would be commented on or shared. In such a world, the number of self-proclaimed professional photographers would be in the hundreds or thousands rather than the millions. You would not need a machete to make your way through Antelope Canyon. There would be fewer photography workshops than there are photographers.

Imagine all these people…living life in peace 😉
Now I am hungry for a burrito…

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5 Responses to The Burrito Test

  1. Peggy Perales says:

    I would like to nibble on the burrito with a tequila while contemplating the beauty of the photo hanging on my wall.

  2. Ken Henke says:

    Now this is a subject I can sink my teeth in 🙂 Yea, I kick myself now for not diving into landscape/nature photography in the 80’s when landscape photography was pure and uncluttered. I actually do have many slides of many of the “iconic” locations in the West before they were instagrammed to death. I laugh when I hear some of the good younger landscape photographers (you know many) talk about “comp-stomping.” I just hold my tongue since many are stomping on scenes I took in the 70s and 80s. But back to the theme of your blog, yea, it’s overwhelming the number of images one has access to. I long for the ole days, but even I feel somewhat compelled to release an image every week or so. But I don’t release crap either. But I am also in the situation where my name is not yet fully established in the landscape/nature photo world. Starting now in the business is brutal. Good thing I have a day job.
    Well, now I can probably never look at another image, including mine or yours, and not run the burrito test. Yea, I’m a fan as well, right behind Carne Asada. Cheers!

    • Stan Rose says:

      Ha! “instagrammed to death” so true! (as I post on instagram…) Well, at least when I get my new a7r1V in a couple months ill be able to revisit all these places and make them BIG…no, YUGE! ROFL. thanks for the comment, Ken, now back to my brutal job 😉

      • ken henke says:

        Yep, those super extra special pixels are bound to make every iconic spot much better 😉 But, hey, its the “hunt” for the image that is what makes it all worth it!

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