Sunday, April 28, 2013

Just because you can

OK Go - Singing Over the Crowd by Cycrolu, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by Cycrolu

When I went on holiday 15 years ago or more I thought a couple of 36 photo film rolls were easily enough to capture those important moments. The cost of developing those photos meant that every camera click was carefully considered. Today I take hundreds of photos, not because I have to but mostly because I can. I delete the worst ones but I keep about 90% of them even if I know that very few people in the world, if any, are likely to want to see them. We all sit on vast collections of photos and video footage that are hardly ever viewed. Since digital storage is free or inexpensive it's easy to save everything, just in case.

Maybe we spend so much time filming and taking photos that we actually forget to simply enjoy the real experience. Whenever you go to a major tourist attraction the place is swarming with people all taking thousands of very similar photos of the same place, from much the same angles. I'm in there with the best of them but I sometimes wonder why. I suppose it's the need to prove that you were actually there and in recent years to prove that to all your friends on Facebook. I do often enjoy seeing friends' photos on Facebook, especially if they've been somewhere interesting. Sharing memories and experiences is what drives social media and fulfills the need to create bonds and common reference points. However maybe we have to step back now and then and wonder if we really need to take all these photos and films and whether we are sometimes more focused on that than actually enjoying the experience.

An article on CNN, At concerts, put that cell phone down, complains of the forest of mobiles held up at concerts with everyone taking blurred photos and recording poor quality films of the performance. YouTube is full of dreadful concert video clips that no one ever watches and the author wonders why we do it.

"It's difficult to explain just why we do it -- why having a very basic camera in our pocket compels us to shoot photos and videos of live music that, deep down, we know we'll never look at.
Part of it might be the delusional notion of preserving a memory, but it's probably more about showing everyone in social media that you're actually out of your house doing something culturally important. As opposed to staying in and slathering your body with ranch dressing."

The article cites a recent example of the rock group the Yeah Yeah Yeahs who put up signs at a recent concert appealing to fans to keep their mobiles out of sight. Let the people behind you see the show. The chances of you getting any decent footage are slim and it's simply an unnecessary irritant.

"Of course, if you have a quality camera and can get up close, there's definitely an art in concert photography. And people certainly appreciate that.
But for everyone else, let's all agree to give it a rest. Do it for you. Just experience the music, take it in, and we'll talk about our favorite moments over late-night food."


  1. Interesting! Definitely worth taking into consideration. :-) We might shoot one or two good photos (occasionally) but why save all the bad ones?

  2. I agree completely, especially with what you wrote about forgetting to simply enjoy the real experience. I've seen that many times while on safari, the photos have become the main reason for going.