This is definitely not a new idea on my part, it is an idea touted around the world as digital cameras are owned by nearly ever man, woman and child. No longer restricted to professionals, and affordable for anyone. Everyone’s wondering if the digital age has given us too much freedom disguised as a curse, or somewhat, a burden for electronic storage. The question goes deeper than that though, have we lost a little bit of soul in the photos that we take? Does each shot that you snap mean something to you, something to someone else, or truly represent something you love or believe in? My musing tonight is more aimed at the smart phone market, a growing trend of people expressing themselves through a miniature sensor the 1970′s couldn’t even have imagined. Nevertheless, the question remains the same. However you take your pictures, I ask you, as a society, do you think we take too many photos?
Take the ‘Birthday Party” example.
^OMG how embarassing…
When I was a kid, I remember my mum pulling out the camera. Film was expensive, to both buy and develop. Every shot was worth a few dollars, they were rare. You carefully and methodically filled each image with a memory you wanted to treasure forever. The Birthday Cake, complete with smiles, party hats and the warm glow of candles, forever enshrined on a piece of Kodak paper. Then when the prints came back from the printer, you gathered around as a family, relived the day through the few shots that were in your hands. You had to be careful not to put fingerprints on them, they were going in an album, or a box. There were usually no more than 24, sometimes 36, but each one of them was special.
Fast forward 20 something years…
Hundreds of millions, maybe even soon billions, of photos taken each day by people around the world snapping on smartphones, compacts, lomos, DSLRs, GoPros and some still rocking the old film. I think it’d be fair to say that most of these are uploaded to the big guys; Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Instagram etc. Are each one of these photos treasured? Are they appreciated for the memory that you want to keep? Are they taken because it seemed like a good idea at the time?
We have the freedom to effortlessly create and store as many photographs as our batteries will let us take, as much as our memory cards can hold, as much as our computers can process and our sharing sites’ servers can take. But at what cost?
Petapixel posted this article recently about Facebook buying up more storage for photos, and trying to invent new ways of storing the thousands of millions of images, just like the one above, for random “occasional” access without compromise.
I personally think that a little bit of soul has gone from it all.
Among the many millions or billions of photographs out there now, are a very small percentage of keepers. You know it, I know it. You’ll go out and shoot sunrise, come home with 2 shots out of 60, 100 or 200 that you really like. Sometimes none. But you keep them anyway, because with software advancements, there might be hope for those images in 2 years time.
This post was to get you thinking, as I have been doing, about how many photos I take.
Put the camera-phone down. Soak up the moment, if it’s worth remembering it’ll be burnt into your mind forever. If you must take a photo, think about it, ask yourself “Is this a moment I want to remember in years to come?”
It’s time there was a little more soul in the images we take everyday.