Thursday, May 6, 2021

Photos serve new purpose in modern age

Some say the value of a photograph has lost its touch in the modern age, and now a photograph is unable to express the deep meaning that it used to hold. I disagree.

There’s a picture that was taken two years ago of me lying across a ladder in the middle of an apple orchard with my sister draped over my stomach. My stepfather stood in the background with an apple in his mouth, staring at the camera in exasperation. It’s funny to think that an older generation would look at this picture and say how completely outrageous it was compared to the classic black and white, serious portrait.

I always thought of a picture as the physical capturing of a memory that somebody wanted so badly in that moment. Sure, any picture could be lost, burned or ripped to shreds by a broken heart, but in that quick second when the camera flashes, the automatic “click” dashing through your ears like an alarm, you wonder internally if your face looked OK: that picture was a snapshot of you at that exact moment in time.

People, specifically older people, complain that pictures don’t matter as much anymore. They’re also probably angry about filtered photographs of sunsets, blurry images of a party you went to last weekend or the dinner at Panera you had to document on Instagram. The picture I posted of cinnamon buns I made last month might be something older people would stick their nose up at, but it could be just because they wanted some. Too bad I don’t share.

Maybe it’s because of smartphones. Today, a picture we take might not even matter because of the thousands of snapshots we already have in our camera roll. However, I don’t think we should care if a girl snaps a picture of her over-priced Starbucks or if some guys are setting up an Instagram account for their dog that skateboards.

It seems that whenever we have an easier way of being able to look back on the moments that made us happy, it becomes a commodity for others to complain about.

I don’t think it’s wrong to have our private, digitally frozen memories to ourselves, and it shouldn’t matter to anyone if I have 20 pictures of my dog sleeping. He has the best smushy face, by the way. Don’t get too close though, because his breath reminds me of a garbage can.

The point is, I think we are more appreciative that we can take pictures so easily now, even though people don’t acknowledge it as often as they should. As much as seeing 15 pictures of my little cousin on Facebook every day makes me want to and strangle her mother, that woman has the opportunity to look back at how adorable her little girl was years later when she’s having a bad day.

We can now take a digital picture of our friends laughing or our significant other looking out the window because we thought they looked stunning or blackmail our parents when they decide to fight over a bag of marshmallows. The last one is a true story, and guess who had to clean it up.

The value of a picture on my phone means more than most of the photos I have on my cork board hanging on my wall right now. This is because I can take the digital ones with me anywhere, send them to anyone with a tap on my screen and have the ability to make a copy in under a second. Anyone who has a phone knows that our camera button is a gift and curse when we want to look back on a fond memory.

I don’t believe our social media or camera roll diminishes the quality of a photo, nor do I think we are being ridiculous whenever we take a picture of the sunset to put up online. People are taking photos every day for all kinds of reasons. Whether they last a lifetime or are deleted within a week, photographs are memories that we can physically hold onto and appreciate forever.

Email Shania Savastio at shania.savastio@cardinalpointsonline.com

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