Impact of the Digital Photo Revolution - 2. WHY
Updated: May 7
The How, Why & What of the Digital Photo Revolution
A Three Part Series:
Part 1 The How - How has the digital revolution — in particular the smartphones—
impacted HOW we take, store & share our photos?
Part 2 The Why - Has the digital revolution really changed WHY we take photos?
Part 3 The What - Has the digital revolution changed WHAT photos we take?
Part 3: This article explores how the Digital Era has changed our photo-taking habits and why we still hang onto all of the images that we take.
1. Have Our Picture taking habits changed?.... YES & NO
Because of Social Media
These days photographs are an easy way to communicate with people both near and far. With Social media centered around instantly ‘sharing’ easily taken photos with short captions, we're now just as likely to share our everyday lives as we are holidays and special events and with MANY more people.
Social Media also encourages us to be 'more imaginative' — to take photos of real life as it happens... of people doing things other than just posing — less of the " say cheese!!" ... more of reality, and the spontaneous to edit and post as pictures, pic-stiches, snaps and memes.
We're also encouraged to post short-form videos , these days, most notably by TikTok .
so fast that take unlimited numbers of professional quality photos, AND — thanks to TikTok — mastered the art of recording short-form mobile videos. The ascension of Social Media has brought new meaning to old words — Like, Post, Comment , Share.... and spawned a whole new vocabulary — Flash Mob, Hashtag, Meme, Selfie, Viral....
Because We Can
Our phones are with us at all times, so we can take a picture of any- & everything anytime. The list is endless. A few have got some bad press... food, selfies. But the convenience of taking a picture, rather than having to write something down, is priceless
(see Part 3 for more on this subject)
Travel, the big occasions and everyday moments with the people we love still remain the most popular subjects....
We're still taking —lots more — photos of our travels. We still want to preserve life's “big occasions”— weddings and births. There are the other special occasions — birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, family reunions etc... Then there are the everyday moments with our families (and pets). Our young children have always been the most popular photographic subjects — the nearer to setting off on their life's journey the better...
It's just that NOW, when we post these to Social media, there is a chance that they could go 'viral'... a new meaning to "everyone gets 15 minutes of fame"???
2. Do we still hang on to all of our photos?... YES... Why?
All of them?
Billions of photographs, taken before the days of digital photography, still languish, unlabeled, in boxes forlornly waiting to be passed to the next generation to be sorted and preserved. Many of these pictures have no meaning to the inheritors except that they were kept by, and had great significance to, someone they loved. Scenes from places they have never been, gatherings that they weren't a part of, friends and family they never met, whose names they don't know.
Trillions of digital equivalents will soon be floating around in the cloud, also forlornly awaiting to be passed to future generations to be sorted. This could prove to be a bit more complicated than clearing out the attic, because while the digital world has been hurtling through space at the speed of light, the laws addressing granting access to the original owner's digital footprint are still quite a few steps behind. Each comes with a meta-tag that pinpoints the exact date, time, and where it was taken (with location services turned on). Facial recognition software is beginning to identify the people in them (if someone has taken the time to put names to faces). So on the face (...yes, pun) of it, they will be easier to identify BUT from NOW ON there will be a prohibitive number, and many more types, of redundant images, even for the most ardent sorter to want to sift through.
As Proof of Existence?
So what is it that makes us take a photo or FEW in the first place, then be so attached to them afterwards, even if we only give most of them a cursory glance or two before banishing them to the NEW box in the attic — the cloud?
The only thing that we can be absolutely sure about our lives is that they will end. My theory is that we can't throw away or delete our photos because they are proof that we have been here. They are a representation of ourselves, our personal history and our significance in the world. They leave a footprint of our lives — where we've been, what we've accomplished, what we've overcome, what we like to do, who we loved and where our imagination has taken us. We hope they will aid the family we leave behind understand who we were and who they were in relationship to us; by going through the pictures they will see that our lives mattered...
...and fondly remember us!!
By now, we may have inherited some of those attic boxes full of old family photos. If and when we get around to going through them, we will likely toss the pictures of unknown scenery and places that have no meaning for us. We may find some of our own childhoods... not so many and maybe in need of some 'restoration'. From there going backwards, family photos become much scarcer.
BUT the ones of people that might be our fore-bearers?.... Tell me you haven't stared at these, wandering about what they were like and wishing you knew more about their stories..... AND what about the home movies? Have we thrown any of those out, either???...
...where we came from matters to all of us.
To hold onto family memories?
As we get older, we become much more aware of how quickly time goes by and recognize the importance of our pictures helping us to hang on to our memories. We all attach our own special meaning to our accomplishments, the things we have done, the places we have lived and traveled to. We attach the most importance to our relationships with the people in our lives, above all of whom are those that mean the most to us and we have the deepest love for, our families (which, obviously, also includes our pets!!). AND the photos of those we love.... they are are extremely precious to us.
All the places we have lived add to the story of who we are. Vacations, more about relaxation and reconnecting with our families, away from the humdrum of everyday life, have a different significance than the trip of a life-time to some exotic far-off destination, but they all matter. We attach importance to documenting all of our experiences and being able to revisit them through our pictures: Photos validate what we remember, and even bringing back details to our minds that we would have otherwise forgotten.
..."A picture paints a thousand words"
For our children?
Anyone above a Gen Z, definitely all Millennials, and at least ‘younger’ Gen Xs are featured in plenty of film photos, still in existent today, likely tucked away in family photo albums in their parents' home. The photos are in the same condition as when they were carefully inserted into the plastic sleeves. Now, if only very occasionally, they are still looked at, always with a wistful smile across the viewing parent’s face. I'm one of those parents (of children in the millennial range, I hasten to add!), and just talking about lovingly gazing at my babies, when they were babies, is making me nostalgic.
My kids were present from the day they were born, but have little recollection of their early years. I have their personal childhood histories documented in my photo albums, which show our everyday life together, places we visited as a family, interactions with important people in their early lives, the activities they enjoyed and, of course... "the big moments".
The point is, that the moment our children come into the world, they become the most important things in our lives, which are changed forever. So, while it is important that we act as the historians of their past, even more importantly we are the keepers of their identity. Whether consciously or not we take pictures of them to show what they mean to us, how much we love them, how proud we are of even the smallest of their achievements, and that we celebrated each and every step along the way with them.
We intended to pass our photo albums on to them when they reached adulthood, so that if they wanted to piece together the story of who they were, what they were like, and what was important to them as children, they might find some of the answers in the pictures… BUT WE are not ready to part with the albums JUST YET, we still have our dotage to go through.
Since we are hanging onto all of our photos our family media collections are becoming vast.
..... This is where Digital Kreation can help!! — to get your home media collection organized and provide strategies to keep it manageable today and for years to come!!!
DigitalKreation is dedicated to preserving, protecting, planning and presenting family's stories This Blog provides tips from start (finding & preserving memories) to the finish (creating stunning Photo books and Video slideshows).
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