Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Revolution Will Be Photographed

I think I'd be safe in saying that 99% of the people reading this post own a camera. You might have a digital camera and most of you likely have a camera in your phone. In a very short space of time, cameras have become ubiquitous precipitating the rise of what I call phototerrorism.

In the time of film and developing of photos, a single photo was a precious thing. To take a photo was an event. You gathered people together in their best clothes and a single photo (at most two) was taken to remember the event. That I had no problem with.

Now attend a workshop or an awards dinner, even a kid's birthday party and everyone has a camera and everyone wants a hundred photos of what went on- every single, solitary detail of what went on. When we at dinner, when we wrote an assignment, when we tripped up the stairs, when the pencil rolled off the table. Every step is accompanied with- "Wait! I want to take a photo." And then people group themselves and every single camera in the vicinity is pulled out and the same photo is captured by 15 cameras.

I'll admit I don't like photos. I don't like having them taken and I don't like taking them. I feel like taking a photo subtracts from my experience of what is happening. I have to stop and put this machine between me and what is happening. It taints my view of things. It slows things down when they shouldn't be slowed. And of course now with social media, as soon as the photo is taken it is up on Facebook for the world to see. Another aspect of phototerrorism.

I guess I'm likely alone in this point of view which is fine. I know I've regretted occasionally coming home from a trip and realising I'd taken no photos at all to remember it by. I have an upcoming workshop I'll be attending, I guess it's more about me preparing myself for the barrage I'm sure will be waiting. I'll try my best to be cordial.


Joyful said...

You are not alone in disliking photos. I take tons of photos but most of them are not of people, unless they agree and it isn't too offputting.

I figure if I don't like my photo plastered on FB and in other places, I won't subject other people to it. Sometimes I do post photos of people too but it is rare for me post them, if they are just going about their lives. I've noticed that people now "freeze up" once they see the cameras out and they are just wanting to enjoy a meal or a regular outing. Holidays are a different matter. Of course I want photos, lol.

Lauri said...

I had the most amazing last day in Cairo. I friend of a friend who lives there took us to all of these amazing hidden corners in Old Cairo. We visited mosques, climbed up ancient minnerets. In the night we went to an ancient house turned into a kind of cultural centre where they were preparing for a shadow puppet show. It was one of THE most amazing days of my life. I did not take a single photo. This I regret, I must say.

Sue Guiney said...

Great minds.....I've never liked taking photos. They never show what it is I've seen and I'm too impatient to stop the experience and record it. I'd rather think about the impressions later and do with them what I will. But having said that, I love looking at other people's photos. Strange....

Joyful said...

Hi Laurie, even when you are like me snapping and snapping, there are still times, when I just leave the camera alone and don't take photos. I have regretted that on a rare occasion also after returning home. I guess these are "photo memories" for us to keep :-)

Lauri said...

You know Sue, I also like looking at people's photos. Though I have to say - I hate people's safari photos. Everyone thinks they got the most fabulous shots and in most cases they would have been better buying post cards in the gift shop.

Val said...

wow your new blog look is so vibrant and energising!

I take pics all the time, infact i feel like i have lost a limb if there is anot a camera in my bag or nearby! however, i do not post people pics on fb any more; it became to complicated to start with, and no-one seems to like it much. so thats easy.

you can ask people to remove pictures if you dont like them, or untag them;

Did you read the Gold Puppy about the art of letter writing? seems there is a retro movement starting :)

Anonymous said...

I veer between liking photos and not liking them. I take quite a lot of photos but usually not at events. I tend to snap away when I'm on my walks and see interesting things but rarely will I sit at dinner or a party and take lots of shots. It is a bit intrusive.

A friend of mine recently said that peoople don't appreciate occasions any more because they spend all their time looking at them through a lens. To a certain extent I think she's right. And God help you if you fall over in public and expose your underwear. You just know someone's photographing it with their iPhone and in 10 seconds it's on Twitter. It's a crazy, mixed up world!

Lauri said...

Val- and you take lovely photos, interesting wildlife photos too. Not like the thousands of photos of zebra standing in a group. Or elephants in the water. Boring. No I haven't read Gold Puppy, I'll look for it.

Selma- Again, like Val you take lovely photos. I think it's different if you set out on a walk for example to capture something, I do that sometimes too. But like your friend said, sometimes you lose the experience.