You’ve all probably had a friend or two who has said this to you in conversation. Hell, you probably have tried it at one point. But lo and behold, we all seem to come running back. We’re a very visual culture, and consuming images is a very easy way for us to feel as though we connect with people. The next day, you see someone in class and say, “hey I saw you went to so and so’s party. I was thinking about going to that, but had too much blah blahb lahhasda. *Insert filler conversation here.*” Voila, you have a conversation starter with another human being. Images and photos supposedly provide us evidence of events, of things we’ve done, of people we know, and of our existence. Is that always entirely true though?
On a personal note, I have been greatly downsizing my Facebook lately. Not only because the concept of timeline makes me wildly uncomfortable, but because my news feed was filled with quantity. Just a sheer mass of photos and people I didn’t care about or haven’t spoken to in years. These strangers though, have access to my photos of when I was an awkward Fall Out Boy and Metallica-loving, skunk-haired highlighted 8th grader (If you’re friends with me on Facebook, don’t even go there. Why I oughta). But more importantly, I was getting lost in a sea of images. There were photos of people’s new shoes, their lunches, snapshots from vacations in front of every landmark that comes to mind, and blurry shots of colored specks supposed to be Coldplay or something from 50 rows away. It was then that the fleeting thought of just ending it all with my Facebook flows through my mind. I wanted to delete my Facebook once again, not because of timeline or distant relatives looking at pictures of me at a party, but because I had realized that I too had become guilty of documenting my life in the wrong ways.
Imagine yourself at a concert. Now envision the audience around you. How many people are there to take in the music, the artists on stage and crew putting on the show, and the company they are with? And then how many are there because they need a venue to desensitize themselves, to find someone to hook up with, or, of course, take pictures for Facebook or Twitter? Unfortunately, from some of my more recent experiences, it tends to be the latter.
Next, imagine yourself at an art museum. How many people stand and pose in fron of the Mona Lisa, take a picture of it, or pose in front of it? For goodness sake, the painting is world famous and is centuries old. We’ve all seen it. We know what it looks like. Just look at it for yourself.
Cool. I drank some coffee in France.
Cool I ate this.
I saw Lady Gaga at Lollapalooza 2010 too.
And next time you’re out with friends, of course take pictures. Make memories. But please, spare us a news feed filled with 200 of these. They look like they’re having a grand ole time.
It’s great that you have friends, and you saw a landmark, and you ate awesome food, and saw Radiohead in concert. But put your cameras away and remember to actually ENJOY what you are trying so hard to document. We here at ISO understand the value of photography (who would’ve guessed?). We know that photos are excellent ways to express art, document moments, preserve memories, and to alter reality. But like anything in life, too much of a good thing makes it no longer good. Dedicate certain excursions, moments, and outings to your photography, but know when to call it quits. A camera is an intricate tool that has a lot of integrity when used properly, so let it recharge its batteries as you’re at the MoMA seeing Cindy Sherman’s photography (see below articles) or out for weekend debacles with your lads. The next time you pick it up, it will remember how much it missed you.