The Meaning of a Picture

I’ve always thought one of the more amazing aspects of still pictures is the meanings we attach to them. I don’t believe there is anything else in life that we attach ourselves to quite like a picture.

Think about the first thought that runs through your head when something magical happens. “Look at this crowd, it’s INSANE! Give me the camera,” you’d tell your friends. Or, you just saw a Ferrari pass by. You whip out your phone and snap a quick awestruck shot.

Yes, maybe that’s how photography has changed. We’re more apt to whip out our smartphone than a shiny Nikon. It’s not the same quality, no matter how much you Instagram or Photoshop it. No, you’re not a professional photographer, or even an average one. But I don’t really think that’s the point.

Every picture at every level of photography starts at the same base. We need to capture this moment. It’s noteworthy. We may not ever get to experience this again.

What makes photography beautiful is the simple thought process that leads us to snap a shot. While we know what significance it has to us at that moment, I don’t think we’re ever really aware of how much it can really affect others.

That’s why Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have become so successful. They have allowed us to take into account what everyone else would think of our biggest moments captured digitally. Now, the thought process might change to, “Wow, my friends would absolutely love this.” Is there something wrong with that?

My answer to that would be no. When you have more resources available to you, it should be an expectation that there will be a plethora of pictures. As in every form of art, you’re going to have your tremendous work and your not so flattering work. It’s how life works.

The upgrades in technology have just made smartphones more accessible at our most important moments than a camera. I can take an iPhone out of my pocket much quicker than the newest Canon. Even the smallest digital cameras require a new case you have to place somewhere. As lazy as it sounds, that’s just another item you have to worry about.

In that context, it’s just better to not bring something like that. I don’t want to be standing in the thousands at Faurot tonight, trying to pull out a new camera. I already have my phone, which has a pretty decent camera. That’ll do the job nicely.

All of these changes I’ve discussed are something every medium has to go through. Audio and video have gone, and are still going, through multiple changes to this day. We may now listen to more podcasts instead of the radio, or watch just as much online as we do on the TV, but the entertainment value that draws us to them has not changed.

So, there may be more pictures than ever, being snapped at higher rate than ever. But what brings you to take a photo, at its core, is still the same.

I want to see this. You want to see this. Let the world see it.

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