Sunday, July 1, 2012

Too many photos

Digital cameras are a marvel.  These days anyone can take constant streams of photographs with no danger of running out of space and do so on a tiny budget.  While we now have more power to take photos than ever before I think we actually have much less incentive to take those photos than ever before.

You have a choice:  Spend your time taking pictures of natural wonders, fiddling with camera settings and trying to frame it just so OR you could simply experience the natural wonder, live in the moment, and go home and find a better picture on the internet.  That photo won't be one *you* have taken but it will probably be better and doing so will let you have deeper experiences to boot.  Instead of travelling to the Louvre and spending your time getting pictures of it you should just look at the damn Louvre and use one of the many excellent pictures found by googling "Pictures of the Louvre in Paris".

One of the best examples of this is the tradition of taking a complex set of family photographs at each gathering.  Rather than spending time talking to each other and getting the most of the time we have we often spend our time in contrived poses with pasted on smiles and carefully arranged furniture.  If we want to record our gatherings would it not be best to actually record what the gatherings were like instead of recording what a photo session is like?

I don't think all photography is wasted of course; somebody has to take that excellent shot of Niagara Falls so that the rest of us have no need to!  What is wasteful though is interrupting and shortening enjoyable experiences to get a picture that nobody will ever look at.  The pictures that are most special and treasured are pictures that cannot be beaten by ones on a tourist brochure and which record life as it is rather than life as we want it to be portrayed.  Take shots of snowball fights, flooded basements, children covered in paint, and people being tossed into swimming pools.  These shots can never be trumped by pictures on the internet and actually give us a insight into the real lives that have gone into the past.

What parts of life do you want to remember?  Do you want to remember the times where you were standing in a row with fake grins in a contrived setting or do you want to remember the times when you were smiling for real at something wonderful that just happened?  Take pictures that will create wonder in your descendants, not boredom!  You can leave two kinds of memories for those who will view your pictures in later years...

"Oh, there is another picture of gramps sitting in a chair in the living room."

"Wow, why is gramps all covered in paint climbing a flagpole while wearing an orange cape?  He must have been *awesome*."

I know how *I* want to be remembered.


  1. You know for sure we'll all be lining up for the giant family photo shoot this summer.

    If we can get all 32 of us into ONE picture then we can forget about spending the day chasing action shots and just enjoy each other's company, as you suggest.

    1. And given it's a digital photo we only need to take the pictures on one camera and share the photos, and not take pictures on 50 different cameras!