“Foiled again,” said Rob Ford

Quick! Take a picture! Use your phone! Let me see it! Ohhhhhhh I love it! I want to frame it! Send it to me, ok? These are words that I am sure passed Rob Ford’s lips, and will forever regret.

The advent of the high-megapixel camera in most of today’s mobile phones has brought in a staggering revolution in photography. Ten percent of all photos ever taken happened in the past year [source]. Four percent of all the photos ever taken reside on Facebook [source]. These numbers floor me. So many moments are being captured and preserved for the rest of time. So, does that mean that there are that many more incredible photographers now?

Well, take a moment and look at all the photos you’ve posted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the social media sites and think about how many of them you’ve printed, framed, and hung on your wall (the one in your house) to share. How many of those photos do you think are iconic? Do they transcend time and place? That’s where I see a large fault in the continuation of a the digital hoarder mentality that we all seem to be developing.

I am a product of the traditional school of photography. I was taught proper composition, lighting, perspective, and critiquing. I learned how to use film, how to develop the spent roll in the dark. How to create my own prints using negatives and an enlarger. Sounds like a lot of work, huh? It was, however in the end it taught me to take my time and to realize that photography was an art. I knew that those iconic images that have stood the test of time.  It took time, maybe not to capture, but to produce the final product.

The downside to traditional photography was the upfront cost. Camera bodies, lenses, film, developing; it all came with an exorbitant cost. Digital photography reduced a large chunk of that cost. While camera manufacturers still charge high dollars for their most advanced camera bodies and lenses, those are one-time expenses. Once you own the parts, the rest is cake so to speak. No longer do you have to buy chemicals, mixing buckets, or fabricate a dark room to see the results of your photos. The results are instantaneous.

Digital photography has brought accessibility to the masses. Almost anyone can take a picture of anything at any time, which overall is wonderful. I know as a trained photographer, having my 8 megapixel camera phone in my pocket at all times is great for capturing that spur of the moment image. However what I am seeing is a trend of people using this great tech for the mundane. Do you really think that posting an image of your new toenail colour is a something that needs to be preserved? Even worse is that you stepped out of the nail salon, stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, put your foot up on the bumper of a parked car to take the picture! Was it really THAT important?

As I mentioned before, four percent of all photos ever taken are now on Facebook. I would really like to know what percentage of those photos is actually worth keeping over time? Which ones would you want in a photo album that is placed on your shelf that anyone could pick up and look at? I don’t mean the embarrassing or compromising images, that should never have been posted in the first place, but the images that you took while on vacation, or of your wedding, or your baby’s first day home. Do you think they should be captured on your Motorola Razr or that great iPhone you always have on you? Or should you maybe use a product that is specifically created to capture these images?

I am not trying to sell you a camera, or to get you to spend oodles of money on something you are only going to use on occasion. What I am asking you to do is consider why you’re taking the picture. What you’re taking that picture of. Think about the situation and wonder if it’s really appropriate to capture that moment with your Android device. Iconic Selfies?

The old adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” is so very true. Keep that in mind the next time you start taking hundreds of photos of that new set of shoelaces you just bought, or decide to stop in for a quick bite at that neighbourhood crack house.

Until next week
A Clockwork Techie

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