It’s a stark reality, but the times of photo albums and disposable film are gone. Instead people are filling up memory cards with hundreds of photos, and when those are full, they resort to their trusty iPhone.
From an economic standpoint, when something is produced in large quantities its value decreases, but does that hold true to photographs?
In the days of the disposable camera, a photograph held value that people actually appreciated. I can’t remember how many different times I accidentally took a picture of the ground, or my finger blocked the lens, and I was genuinely upset that I had wasted another photo in my limited camera roll. Today, kids are taking the same picture five different times on their iPhone, just in case one comes out blurry.
According to one study conducted by Pew Research Center, 79 percent of 18 to 29 year-olds use the internet to share photos they’ve taken. The same study showed that only 19 percent of internet users 65 years or older are using the internet to share their own photos.
The numbers show that older people aren’t contributing to the collection of digital images like some of the younger generations. This may be a result of today’s youth growing up in front of an iPad or an iPhone from such a young age.
The other issue with today’s photo sharing is the subjects of the photos often don’t change. A simple Google image search of ‘golden gate bridge’ will return thousands of results from different sources but many will look almost exactly the same.
The continuous exposure to images from all over the world seems to have left some people desensitized. Now, I am no longer fascinated by the Golden Gate Bridge or the Great Wall of China, simply because I’ve seen pictures of them for years.
Growing popularity of social media and photo-sharing sites such as Instagram, Facebook and Flickr have only contributed to the unnecessary collection of digital photos. Now, people are inclined to take photos for the sole reason on social media.
A major factor in the growing popularity of photo sharing, is the increasing use of photo sharing apps. According to Business Insider, 49 percent of photo shared daily in 2014, were shared using Snapchat. The interesting thing about Snapchat is the photo expires, leaving the recipient to view it for only so long. But what does that say about our culture?
It’s saying that our attention spans are short, and it speaks to our desire to share content. Today we are happy to share larger quantities of photos quicker, and that’s a major factor in the collection of digital images.
It’s hard to believe that photographs still hold the same meaning when we take them so wastefully.
I do believe that pictures still hold meaning and the right photo can evoke incredible emotion, but I think these photos are harder to find. Instead you’ll find photos of concerts and events where crowds were snapping pictures instead of soaking in the experience.
The root of the problem is the consumer. We are simply amassing too many useless pictures, and that’s led to each photo holding less meaning. I don’t believe the solution is to stop photographing, but instead to find something with meaning to photograph. Go out and find something that sparks emotion, because that’s what we’ve lost.