In the past decade, photography has become a lot more technologically advanced. Although there are benefits making the whole picture process easier, there is a major negative. We are taking way too many pictures to the point where it is ridiculous. People have become obsessed with taking pictures of themselves, of others, and of anything possible. This has also decreased the impact of true photography as an art. And finally, the number of pictures we are taking has negative effects on people. How can we fix this major issue? There have been suggestions but will society actually participate in the movements to reduce picture-taking or are they too brain washed by photography?
How Technology has made us Picture Crazy
Digital cameras have made taking excessive amounts of pictures easy and acceptable. Phones are so advanced that they have the camera technology close to lower end digital cameras. Before digital cameras, photographers would not take a picture unless they sure it would turn out. Film was expensive and limited the number of pictures that could be taken. With digital cameras, there are no regrets in taking a picture; the photo can easily be deleted. And with the ability to view your picture right after taking, the decision of whether or not the picture is “good” can be decided seconds after taking it. And if the picture was not up to standards, no worries, you can take the picture over again, until it is perfect thanks to the large memory storage.
Also, there is no cost to take a picture, other than the base costs of the camera and memory card as well as minor cost of charging the battery. The price of picture-taking is much lower than it used to be, therefore the number of pictures we take is a lot higher.
Moreover, cameras are so high-tech that taking pictures requires little to no effort from the photographer because the picture-taking process has been automated. Unfortunately photography has become so popular, easy and affordable that its artistic importance and sophistication are diminished.
Another technological advancement that has increased the number of photos we take relates to storage. Before, people had to worry about where to store pictures and negatives. Nowadays, on top of having a memory card in the camera for immediate storage of pictures, computers have large enough hard drives to store all other pictures.
Taking Excessive Pictures of your Kids
How Taking Pictures of your Kids Really Affects Them
Times definitely have changed. My parents have some pictures of my brother and me in albums from when we were younger. Now parents take hundreds of pictures of their children a month. Even young children are now obsessed with getting their pictures taken. They are too busy posing for pictures and acting for videos, when they should be acting like children and playing naturally.
The real problem is that children are looking at themselves too often in pictures because of the accessibility of digital cameras, camera phones, and computers. As psychologist Alain Morin says, children are getting way more “self-focusing stimuli“. This is good, but only in small doses. Too much can lead to many problems of low self-esteem like depression and at the other extreme, narcissistic behaviors. Moreover, looking at yourself in pictures helps you become more self-aware, something that normally occurs in those awkward teenage years. Nowadays, toddlers are becoming more self-aware and are growing up way too fast. This is most definitely important for development and self-esteem but at the age of 3, this seems slightly odd. Part of what makes childhood so exciting is being unaware and not having a care in the world. In preschool, children are supposed to be naïve enough to talk to another kid they have never met and come out of the conversation being best friends.
- Your kids look angry in the pictures
- They only play outside when it is dark out
- Your kids are always naked to avoid pictures
- They pose for pictures when you don’t have the camera
- They hide their faces all the time
- They laugh at your popularity on Instagram
- They blatantly tell you to stop
I can relate to this list because my dad takes pictures of my brother and I all the time to the point where we have perfected the “duck and cover” or the “run and hide”.
Picture Taking Obsession
Some people can become obsessed with taking pictures, often it is a mother or father taking pictures of their children. They cannot leave the house without some sort of camera. They want their kids to know everything about their childhood so they would not have any questions. In an article I read, the mother was worried she would die and would not be there for her children to tell them about their childhood, so she took pictures. Her idea was that the pictures would be able to explain what she could not, so she to pictures of her children every day. What she ended up realizing that although there were lots of pictures of her kids, there were none of her and the kids. She stopped taking so many pictures because she wanted her children to remember her, not as the mother always taking the pictures, but the mom who was there with her kids to listen and play.
Forgetting the Memories – We are way too Worried
There is a Facebook groups called “Taking too many pictures because you never want to forget the memory”. It was something I used to be concerned about. And clearly many other people are too given that the Facebook page has 23, 584 likes. I have travelled a lot with my sports teams; this past summer I went to Trinidad with my field hockey team. At first, I needed to take pictures of everything and anything. Looking back over these pictures, I realized I took 20 pictures of a sulfur lake (it is one of the wonders of the world, but really it is just sulfur water with tar under it – nothing exciting really happens). Halfway through the trip, I realized I was too busy taking pictures to truly enjoy the sites I was seeing. If we want to preserve the moment, why are we taking pictures of it? When we take pictures, most likely, we are distracted with the camera from the zoom to the proper settings. And because of this, we end up actually missing the moment. Pictures are great to have, but some things are just so amazing that you could never forget them. And if I continued to occupy myself with taking pictures, I do not believe I would have experienced everything I did. When I look back on special moments, I want to remember what happened that day. The last thing I ever want to think is “Oh ya, I took pictures of that all day”.
“Take a picture, it’ll last longer” – Pee-wee Herman
On the other hand, pictures are great for remembering milestones. As
we get older and make new memories, the old ones tend to be forgotten. But when you look at a picture, those faded memories can come rushing back. Looking at old photos bring a sense of happiness as you recall the special moment. Everyone knows the old saying, “take a picture, it will last longer”, which was meant as sarcasm, but is definitely true. Taking pictures to remember moments falls into the grey area; a balance between experiencing the moment and taking pictures of the moment is needed.
Ways to Fix the Addiction
Picture Taking Limit on our Gadgets?
In an article I read, the topic of limiting the number of photos taken a day is discussed by photojournalist Nick Danziger. Picture taking has become so trivial. You can take 20 pictures without thinking about it and find which one looks the best. And technology has made picture-taking so easy with built-in cameras in all our gadgets. But if the number of photos taken in a day was limited to a few, people would actually put more effort into photography like needed to be done 30 years ago. Not to mention that these excess pictures just get stored, forgotten and are never seen again. Limiting the number of pictures taken, would result in only important moments being captured with quality, and thus less pictures would be wasted and forgotten.
The Slow Photography Movement
In a single day, millions of photos will be uploaded to Facebook. Before cameras became digital, precious film was saved for special occasion and life’s milestones. Today, we are taking pictures that have no importance; there is no creativity and no emotional connection to what we photograph. A new movement called slow photography encourages us to think about the picture before we actually take it. The movement believes that if you take the time to analyse the details, the moment will forever be in your memory, instead of being lost in a picture file on the computer. The idea is to experience what is going on rather than taking a picture and forgetting about it.
Excessive picture-taking has become a real problem in today’s society because of all the new digital technology. People take pictures of anything and everything because they can. This problem needs to be fixed as there are negative consequence for those who are obsessed. Although Nick Danziger’s idea of only taking on picture a day is a little over-exaggerated and unrealistic, he has the right idea. If the number of pictures you could take was limited, maybe people would put more effort into photography, and would become more decisive. As for taking pictures to remember a memory, I believe balance is needed. Yes, you should take pictures in order to remember the moment when your memory starts to forget things but you also need to take in and enjoy the moment. This is why limiting the number of pictures taken would be beneficial. You are able to remember and experience the milestone at the same time. This way you do not get distracted by the camera but you are still able to store the memory. Photography is not a bad thing, but taking too many pictures is just crazy.