How long did you look at the photo above? Or any other photos for that matter?
The question arose after I read an article about a study that showed the human brain could classify photos in 13 milliseconds. That is hard to fathom!
The article got me wondering how long I look at photos? I knew it generally wasn’t very long. Of course I had to set up a quick study to track my viewing times.
I used my iPhone stop watch and viewed photos loaded on an internet browser. In the time-honoured tradition of incredible discoveries, I was hoping all the short-comings in my quasi-scientific methodology would cancel out. This became even more clear when I discovered that at least 0.11 of a second passed while I turned the stop watch on and off!
I knew that if looked at photos I didn’t like, my brain could reject them faster than my fingers could keep track of the time. So I chose bears, one of my favourite wildlife, for the big test. The photos ranged from moderately good to fantastic – nothing poor.
The surprising part for me was the time I spent on a bear photo that I really enjoyed. Even after determining it was a good one and consciously deciding to slow down to soak in the beauty, when I looked down at the stop watch, only about three seconds had passsed!
Here are my results:
< 1 second to reject a bear photo I didn’t particularly enjoy – it actually was too short to record so it is likely only a small part of a second
1-2.5 seconds to view good photos
>2.5 seconds to view fantastic photos
It’s all pretty sobering when I think of all the time involved in going to a place to find wildlife, waiting, taking the photo, returning home, downloading and processing it just so people will spend an extra second or two looking at it.
My conclusion? It’s all worth it!