Growing up during a period of innovation has a number of benefits, not least among them is seeing and using old technology before it is improved. A favorite “old technology” that I’m happy has been improved is the disposable camera. Coupled with scanners, the process of putting a photograph on the computer was long and frustrating at best. These days, my phone doubles as my camera and I never actively put photos on the computer.
Even after buying a big Canon HDR camera, which I proudly hang around my neck like the tourist I always strive to be, it was a surprise to find out I can move all my photos to my computer over WiFi. The process is still a bit slow, so I pop out the memory card and stick that in my Mac, but I still don’t print photos like we did with disposables. With such efficiency, it’s become necessary to share these pictures with the world. Digital photography is as important a piece of social media as Mark Zuckerberg, but somehow it seems impossible to separate the two.
I take tons of photos. That Canon I mentioned is usually the weapon of choice but my Samsung smartphone is more than sufficient for most situations. A day long photography class taught me enough to become familiar with my camera, and to understand why the nighttime shots on my phone look so terrible. But with a camera always on my person, often so brazenly that the hop-on-hop-off bus drivers are stopping me on the sidewalk, I’m constantly looking for a good shot. It’s similar to my never ending thoughts about writing and new technologies. Over the last year and half, I’ve taken thousands of photographs.
The trouble is sharing the photos. Admittedly, I can’t share a photo on Facebook without checking how many likes and comments it receives. Thankfully, I’m conscious of the effect. When I share on the ‘book, whether photos or essays, I must be content with receiving zero likes or comments. It’s the only way I can get on with life. But it’s frustrating.
Bigger than that, I know the effect that social media has on other people. A celebrity gets mentioned in conversation and somehow (cough Instagram cough) someone knows exactly where they’ve been vacationing, what their mansion looks like, and how sweet their new car is. They’re as clued in with friends and acquaintances too. I can feel their emotions and, quite frankly, I don’t want them to have that same insight into my life.
So, after traveling to cool places, taking photos of memorable moments and a few artsy frames, all immediately able available to share, what do I do?
They’re all on Google Photos, mostly organized into nice, neat albums. I shared my favorites from Asia on my blog. Some of my recent favorites are below. But most of all, I have them for myself. I took every one, thinking at the time that I wanted to capture this view or that feeling. Scrolling through them again, I’m right back in the zone, watching the not-dark midnight sky in Finland, chasing my nieces around the backyard, or crushing homemade lahmajoun in Turkey. I doubt that disposable camera photos were any different. Maybe things haven’t changed so much.