We’re living in a world of abundance. Choices, choices everywhere — at least if your house is not repossessed, if the growth of the unregulated informal sector doesn’t jeopardize your job or if quantative easing and the silent destruction of capital don’t annihilate your hard earned savings. Increasingly powerful and affordable technology, this world’s great equalizer, leads to the explosion of cheaper crops, to more affordable and extensive mobility, to – we wish – a safer environment and, not least, an abundance of digital photography.
Gone are the days when vacation photos were limited to the rolls of film available while toting along bulky camera gear. Pushing film two stops might have looked nice, yet the real craft was to be able to photograph in difficult light situations. Not any longer. Today everyone can snap at night.
Since the number of shutter clicks doesn’t matter anymore because we can take a million shots a day and it costs us peanuts, because the number of images at our command is infinite, well because of all of this we’ve all become photographers. At least the explosion of photos taken annually proves this:
Would be interesting to know to what carbon footprint the storage capacities lead, I mean all the servers and clouds storing our billions of photos don’t grow on trees. Yet, it’s probably safe to say that 99% of images stored are not only superfluous. They’re a waste of precious resources.
Among the rare 1% of worthwhile imagery I count family pictures. They are what matters. Photos of people we love and care about. Nothing can replace those photographs as our memory fades over time. The remaining part of this 1% is made up of really good work, the one you want to hang on your wall, the one you just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
But because photography is free and foolproof it has become a fixture in our daily lives. We take photos for granted. That’s why we hardly look at them any more, let alone print them, while the pile of photographs keeps ever growing. What for? There are not enough monitors, newspapers and magazines in the world to display a fraction of them all.
In the end, it boils down to the one fundamental question. Why we take pictures. Why wouldn’t we when everyone has a high-quality digital camera in his or her pocket delivering free, easy to use instant satisfaction.
Again, why do we photograph? For many reasons. To see better and differently, because we want to, to make us and others happy and create smiles, to remember and document, to treasure the values we hold dear, to fill a void in our lives and, finally, to engage and make best use of our short time here.
So let the pile of abundance grow — for the right reasons!