Pix or GTFO

Now, there is both a surge of interest in the experience of childbirth—not just as a means to a baby but also as a moment to be relished in its own right—and a greater desire to capture all of life’s moments (and often share them on Facebook).

—The New York Times
Honey, the Baby Is Coming;
Quick, Call the Photographer

Travelers want to record memorable moments without ruining them stressing about focus and flash. They want more sophisticated shots to share on social media. And vacationers realize that an iPhone may not catch that perfect surfing or skiing triumph.

—The Wall Street Journal
Don’t Forget to Pack a Photographer

Dayz, the cult multiplayer zombie sandbox survival MMO I wrote about recently, has a passionate fanbase in great part due to its wildly unpredictable gameplay, so it’s no surprise it now has something else: An embedded journalist. Check out the war photography of Joss Widdowson, who just announced on Reddit that he’s available to accompany DayZ combat teams as they struggle to survive hordes of undead… and other survivors.

—New World Notes
Dayz Gets Its Own
Embedded Journalist/War Photographer

All of which goes against the standard narrative that professional photography is gradually dying. More people may be photographers now. But the photos we frame and display are still pretty much unchanged from what our grandparents did decades ago.

Public vs Private

The questions now should have more to do with the consumption of photography, not the creation of it.

We are paid professionals,
do not try this at home

The digital revolution in photography? It’s in the consumption and display of photos. Anyone moaning about the decrease in the “profession” is missing the point. If anything, the fact that everyone can be a photographer is opening up more and more opportunities for professionals.

Amateur photographers have always taken photos for their own private use. These photos went into albums and were shown to anyone who people felt comfortable enough to show their family photos to. There’s precious little private use today and there’s a ton of pressure to share everything.

Well, not everything.

Our Facebook* profiles are carefully-constructed propaganda. We share things that we want to brag about and, as a  result, only see the brag-worthy items from other people. It should be no surprise that looking at Facebook makes people unhappy. If you’re not having as much fun as everyone looks to be having, of course you can feel bad about yourself.

*Substitute your social media of choice here.

The danger of social media is that it while it rewards quality, quantity is an adequate representation of how fun your life is. But quantity only gets us so far and there’s only so much you can post. As we reach the point where more sharing isn’t possible, the quality of what we share is all that matters—especially if what we’re sharing is not unique.

So it becomes important to document everything with quality too. It’s not enough to take photos of your food, restaurants need to provide a photographer to take a professional photo of your meal. It’s not enough to go on vacation, you need a professional to photograph you being on vacation. It’s not enough to have a kid, you need a photojournalist-style crowning shot. It’s not enough to play video games, you need someone to take Capa-like screencaps of you in the game.

Our private albums of our happy personal memories which we used to just show trusted friends* are now on display. Every event is an important event now and there’s no running out of real estate on a Facebook wall.

*And ourselves when we want to be reassured with a bit of home and childhood.

Where does this end? I’m not sure. But I’m glad that I’m happy enough with my family photos that I don’t feel the pressure to get a professional to take them.

Author: Nick Vossbrink

Blogging about Photography, Museums, Printing, and Baseball Cards from both Princeton New Jersey and the San Francisco Bay Area. On Twitter as @vossbrink, WordPress at njwv.wordpress.com, and the web at vossbrink.net

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