Will Call: Take a moment, not a picture
the results are in...
My pie poll from last week generated a respectable though hardly representative 20 responses. Of those, all but one agreed that apple pie ought to be considered pie. The majority also felt that pumpkin qualified, while Boston cream pie had three supporters, chicken pot pie two, and cheesecake and peach cobbler one each.
As I turned onto the highway for a quick weekend trip last Saturday, I realized I had left my camera behind and decided not to go back for it. I think I made the right call, for although I was quickly reminded that my phone is no replacement, it also underscored that taking pictures isn’t worth it nearly as often as we seem to think.
Part of what lured me to photography in the first place is the distance it brings.
It gave me a role at middle school dances that didn’t require (shudder) actual dancing. It gave me something to do instead of just watching at high school basketball games. It continues to be a great excuse to go out on a starry night or after a snowfall.
On the flipside, I’ve heard many a photographer talk about the difficulty of putting down the camera and being directly involved in something.
With the advent of the smartphone, it seems to have gone from an occasional personal challenge to a full blown societal trend.
If you’ve been to a concert in the last few years, you’ve no doubt noticed that we seem to have replaced flicking your Bic with filming the whole darn thing on an iPad. Not only does this give the person behind you the opportunity to view it on a retina display instead of real life, it also gives those of us too foolish to film it ourselves a choice of many distant, blurry, shaky angles on YouTube. It’s clearly an improvement on the old days when you had to just sit there and enjoy the concert and maybe spend $20 on a professionally produced video with cameras on the stage and sound right out of the system.
I’m sorry, but I just don’t get it. I don’t understand why every guest at a wedding has to get their own picture of the bride walking down the aisle instead of relying on the professional hired to do just that. In the era of digital photography and social media, they’ll likely be online in a few days, or even hours.
Is it to prove we were there? I’m not sure you’re really present when you’re taking a photo, so that seems counterproductive. Besides, that’s what we have selfies for, because we’ve apparently passed the point where you can trust a stranger to take a photo for you.
Perhaps it’s a creative outlet? Phones can produce some really spectacular photos under the right circumstances, but that seems to be the exception rather than the rule.
I could have used every advantage of bokeh and dynamic range last weekend when a pair of geese flew right over me on the mist-shrouded banks of the Dolores River as the first light hit the canyon walls. I tried and failed to capture the moment with my phone, but should have just savored it then and there. If I had it to do again, I’m not sure I’d raise my SLR even were it in my hands.
I was more satisfied with my phone’s performance at Delicate Arch, which I hadn’t visited since I was a tyke. Still, I can’t imagine myself printing out the photos or even pouring over them a few years from now.
None of this is to say I dislike or discourage photography. It’s an essential part of the journalistic process and an engrossing hobby.
There are just times when I’d rather concentrate on making memories – even if a picture lasts longer.
Will Grandbois has a Nikon camera and loves to take a photograph. He can be reached at 384-9105 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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