We now live in an age where we feel the need to document every moment of our lives. Never before in history have we felt such a burning desire to be seen, heard, and validated. Of course, we seek this attention primarily through social media or other means such as texting, etc. Photographs are one of the most used ways of communicating with others. But how does photography affect our lives?
Cell Phones as Cameras
When I first began my journey into the incredible world of photography in 2004, digital cameras had only been available to the mass market for 8 years. They were still in their infancy on the grand scale of technology today. There is one day in class that I will never forget. It was when one of my peers asked my professor a question, “Where do you think the future of camera technology is headed?”
He had been writing something on the whiteboard, and he paused. Turning, he said simply, “Cell phones. The phone you are carrying right now will be your camera one day. And that day is going to arrive faster than you think.”
I scoffed a little because I still had to pull out the antenna on my phone and the classic ribbon game that was in black and white was my favorite. I guess I dated myself a little there, didn’t I?
Before I graduated with my degree, my professor was right. I was taking pictures to text to my family and friends with the little computer in my pocket. Were they excellent pictures? No, but I was fascinated with documenting things I wanted to share. Instead of describing things I had seen or something I had done, all I had to do was conveniently pull out my phone and snap a picture.
Today, most people are drawn to taking photos with their phones because it appears to be a way to truthfully record their lives. According to 99firms, current statistics say that Instagram alone has 95 million images uploaded to their platform per day. That is only one social media platform, so does photography affect our lives?
You better believe it!
Photographs As Daily Memories
We are human, and thus by being human, we are emotional creatures. Photography allows us to express our emotions through this readily available art form and we are addicted to it.
My father is the ultimate example of this! He still has a flip phone, and he cannot text anything except a picture. To put that into context, he is still baffled as to why a keyboard is not in alphabetical order. Nevertheless, if he has been fishing, hunting, or doing something with my kids, he is elated about, I end up getting a picture texted to me!
To him, he is freezing time and capturing a memory that he can look back on later. How often do you do the same?
But let’s pause for a moment and think about the act of taking an image. By pausing to record what we see in front of us, we have already altered our experience of the event or subject.
Let me illustrate this for you.
Photography Alters Our Perceptions
How often do we see images of the meals that people are preparing to eat pop up on our news feed? A lot! I’m going to use my friend Lorelei from WNC Social Media Buzz as an example. We took a trip to Saint Louis in 2019 for the WordPress conference. On our trip, we had the opportunity to sample different kinds of food. Before every meal, she would take a picture with her cell phone of what we were eating.
Is there anything wrong with doing that? No, but it instituted a break in our conversation and delayed the consumption of our food. Because of that, our experience together and partaking in a delicious meal was altered. Even my memory’s recall of the fun we had was changed because I found humor in what she was doing!
Photography shapes our perceptions and allows us to express ourselves. The two examples above are only a microscopic case study of how much cameras affect us. They do not even scratch the surface of what news outlets, advertising, artistic interpretations, journalism, and more do to us as they are bombarding us daily!
Photography affects our lives in new and profound ways with each passing day. Yet with the capability comes great responsibility, but we will get into that next time.