Monday, September 24, 2018

Why Take Pictures When Everyone is a Photographer?

Mexican Bird-of-Paradise
In 2005, for my final project in a Dreamweaver class, I used some of my own photographs in a redesigned website for The Cafe Irreal. Most of my classmates, who were tech savvy enough to learn to use complex software and to understand the basics of html and Javascript, were nonetheless unsure about how to put a photograph online. I told them that I took photos with my Yashica point-and-shoot film camera, had them developed, scanned them, then uploaded the jpegs produced by the scanner. Just thirteen years later, with sites like Flickr and Instagram allowing people to upload photos by the billions, it’s almost impossible to believe I was ever the photographer in the room.

And so in 2018, despite my experience in my long-ago Dreamweaver class, it has been difficult for me to convince myself to continue to take photos. It’s been over a year since I’ve posted any pictures on this blog, though at one time I enjoyed doing photo essays. And I can't help but have noticed the glut of selfies and the endless iterations of tourist photos of the same locations. A quick survey of the statistics regarding photos on the internet does little to encourage me to add my own images. Here’s just a sample of the truly awe-inspiring numbers involved:

Bernard Marr at Forbes, in an article called "How Much Data Do We Create Every Day? The Mind-Blowing Stats Everyone Should Read," says 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created each day, and “our current love affair with social media” is responsible for a significant amount of that. He then goes on to note that each day Snapchat users share 527,760 photos, Instagram users post 46,740 photos, and more than 300 million photos are uploaded to Facebook.

And those are not the only places you’ll find lots of photos. For example, there are the photos uploaded by the 75 million “registered photographers” on Flickr. In addition, there are more than 100 billion + pins per month on Pinterest, which usually contain images. What could I possibly photograph that would add anything to this huge influx of images from around the world? How can I motivate myself to take pictures when everyone is a photographer? There was a time when I posted my photos of Prague, but how can I feel that I’m adding valuable content when there are 843 pictures of Charles Bridge on Yelp alone?

At first I thought maybe I should buy a new camera – I’m still using the same Kodak digital camera I bought ten years ago – but then I ran across an article reminding me that it’s not the equipment that makes great photos happen, it’s the photographer. See “Why Your Camera Gear Doesn’t Matter” by Stacey Hill at Digital Photography School.

So I took the old Kodak out and took some pictures of Mexican Bird-of-Paradise in bloom in a beautiful array with wasps and bees and butterflies flitting around. And I came up with the photo at the top of this post, which has a nice bokeh background, and I remembered why I like to take pictures. So maybe I’m back…

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