Viewpoint – Don’t Take a Photo Today

This photo got the ball rolling....

Don’t do it. Don’t take a photo today. Not with your phone, not with your camera.

Don’t even draw with chalk.

Today, August 19, is World Photography Day. It’s the day we celebrate France thinking they came up with the idea of photography. Ok that’s not fair. Photography, as we know it today, did find its footing in 19th Century France, and Messrs. Daguerre and Niepce deserve tremendous credit for sorting out how to create permanent images.

So in their honor, let’s NOT take yet another photograph.

This day, you see – aside from the fact that we need to have every day be a national or world official day for something – asks that we all take one photograph – something that represents our experience if you will. And share it.

Please, don’t.

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Why?

You might want to sit for this, but we are, across all social and internet platforms, currently taking and uploading about 2 BILLION photos – a day.

My god.

We are shooting and uploading at such a rate that, if you include all the videos and add in security cameras and satellites watching us, etc, we are practically recording history, from multiple angles, in real time. It’s as if a digital record of every moment of our lives exists, as it happens.

Consider this – you wake up, and if you use any internet-connected tech – Alexa, Apple Watch, whatever – your activities are being recorded, and in some cases listened to.

Your entire time on your phone, computer, tablet, TV, even potentially just your movements within your house, is broken down into saved data – tech companies know EVERYTHING you are looking at, in real time. Your movements are tracked through GPS, on your car, your phone, your wearable devices. Every place you go,drive, walk into, is recorded and cataloged.

Your very existence has become one big photograph, one fairly complete snapshot of you. You willingly broadcast your life to the world, even when you don’t realize it.

And we are not even talking about getting on Facebook or Instagram or WhatsApp and uploading even more data – photos, likes, posts.

Our lives are reduced to a catalog of digital information, taken in real time.

And now they want us to celebrate photography by taking ANOTHER photograph and sharing it. I’ll pass.

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Don’t misunderstand. I love photography. This site is dedicated to the medium. In my career as a photographer I estimate I have taken about four million photos, maybe closer to five if I really think on it. This week and next I’ll probably take another 3000, and get paid to do it, which I like.

But when the shooting is over, I like to put the camera down. I’m getting older, and I prefer at this point to use the camera I was born with – my eyes, my mind.

I can take a walk with the dogs, or play with my girls, or watch the hummingbirds out back and not feel the need to document it. I can look at a blue sky and appreciate the specific shade, or note that sunrise was unusually orange, and not need to post about it.

I can sit at a light in my car and watch with fascination as workers put the finishing touches on an apartment building – it metal and glass with accents of burnt orange. Or watch a train roll by at a light and note with amusement that it’s pulling traditional box cars, splattered with graffiti, or that the old church that had a gorgeous mural on the north wall has been knocked down for some new development.

Maybe a new metal and glass apartment building.

And all of these moments I have permission to see, and enjoy, and tuck away in the privacy of my own memory. They are my precious images, taken just for me, recorded just for me, to remind myself in a digital world, I’m still an analog kid.

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So put down the device. Don’t take another dang photo. Find a moment to SEE the world around you. Fill your mind with the extraordinary images everywhere you look. Just today.

Your social media will be fine without you.

They have 2 billion other images to catalog….

 

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