by Betsy Oda, Opinion Editor
Picture this: You go out to coffee with a friend and snap a photo of the artsy design swirling in the mug. After coffee, the two of you take a walk around the park, stopping every so often to take shots of each other, the scenery and the architecture. Whether these images are taken on a professional quality digital camera or an iPhone, the moments you can capture are practically endless and effortless. Although there are positive aspects to this phenomenon, it may have had an overall damaging impact on the way we appreciate the art of photography.
Unfortunately, many people these days don’t think twice when they take a photo. Since the invention of the first camera almost 200 years ago, photography has revolutionized the way mankind views the world. Social media and other new technologies have only added to this effect. According to Popular Photography, over six billion photos are uploaded to Facebook each month. Yet in a survey by author and marketing consultant Tomi Ahonen, 90 percent of people take photos solely with camera phones, as opposed to digital or film-based cameras. The ease of access to camera equipment has led to overall lower quality photography and a decreased admiration for the technical skill and creativity it requires.
So what’s the problem with the influx of images? People have short attention spans and increasingly high expectations for the content in their newsfeeds. Professional photographer Nesrin Danan believes that social media has diminished the human capacity to appreciate beauty and art.
“When we see something extraordinary now, we hardly even realize it’s extraordinary; we give it a double tap and keep scrolling,” she said in an article for MTV. Rarely does anyone stop and take time to truly look at a photo. The abundance of images, text and media (whether positive or negative) that we are exposed to has numbed us to the beauty and value of this medium.
So what’s the problem with the influx of images? People have short attention spans and increasingly high expectations for the content in their newsfeeds.
The art of photography is so much more than pushing a button. Keith Barker, professor of photography at Asbury University, believes that in order to call oneself a photographer, he or she ought to be able to communicate something valuable, substantial and true. This skill is so often lost amidst the endless stream of photos we see, especially as more and more people begin taking and uploading photos of anything from sunsets to selfies. Unfortunately, with the emergence of even more technology and social media outlets, this shallow trend is unlikely to change anytime soon.
Anyone with a cell phone can find some way to justify calling themselves a photographer. But just as having access to a piano does not guarantee a grand sonata, access to camera technology does not necessarily guarantee meaningful photography. Perhaps the next time you want to post a picture online, you ought to think first about what contribution it will make (if any) to those who view it.