It interests me how photography has changed over the years. I mean, yes, the technological change itself is interesting, but I’m talking more about how the way we use and interact with photography has changed. First of all, thanks to the smart phone, everyone now has a camera. Sure, your phone camera isn’t as good as a professional camera, of course, but you know what, it isn’t half bad. And goodness knows that with the filters, you can do as much photoshop as you need to do to make yourself as presentable as you feel you need to be on social media.
Secondly, the way that we view pictures is different. There was a time, before the internet, that you had to go and get pictures developed, wait to see what they looked like, and then you put them all in an album and looked at them there, kind of like reading a story. From my experience, this was always done with family or friends. One of my favourite things to do as a kid was to pick up an old photo album from when I was a kid or from before I was born, and look at it with my parents and have them tell me all about who was in the pictures or what was going on in them.
Now, however, we view pictures much different. First of all, they’re all digital. We have them on our phones or, if we’re lucky, on our digital cameras. So we get to see what the pictures look like before we let anyone else see them. I wonder how many decent pictures have been disposed of because the one with their finger on the delete button wasn’t totally satisfied with their smile. Not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing, but I think we definitely see fewer less-than-perfect photos of people. And maybe that’s a little less fun (unless the bad photos are of me, then they obviously must be destroyed).
Thirdly, and I don’t know if this is really its own point, or kind of tied into the other two, but photos we post now act kind of like status symbols. Instagram and Facebook serve as a kind of record of the places you’ve been, how many hip summer hats you wear to how many festivals, how cool you look in your retro garb, how many “likes” you have and how popular that makes you. It’s like if you don’t have a picture of it, it didn’t happen according to social media, and if people don’t know about all the cool things you do, is it even worth it?
The answer is, of course, that of course it’s worth it, and of course it matters, and who cares who knows about what you’ve experienced if you’ve experienced it. But that’s the interesting part of it all. This incredible need we all have to share images of our experiences with others seem to have become necessary for some people to make the experience valuable. The way we present ourselves to the world through pictures fascinates me, and I’m going to write a few posts about thoughts I have on the subject. Hope you enjoy them.