I hear the complaint all the time…”Kids these days…” and you know that when someone starts off a sentence with “kids these days” that they’re an old person. “Kids these days and their cell phones, and their cell phone cameras…they’re so busy taking pictures and documenting things that they don’t ever get to enjoy the moment.”
I’m not so sure about this. And actually, I’m willing to bet that this is a complaint that has been voiced every since George Eastman made photography accessible to the masses. I can see it now, “Young people these days and their Brownie cameras…they’re so busy taking pictures and documenting things…” well, you get the point.
The big difference between then and now is that the price of taking pictures has gone down. I remember having to buy the film, and then pay for the processing of the film. When you only had 36 possible shots you could use, and you had to pay for each shot, you were pretty stingy with what you took pictures of. Sometimes you missed good shots because you were afraid you wouldn’t have any film left for later on. Other times you missed good shots because you’d already used up your film.
With a digital camera and enough memory, the saying is that “pixels are free.” A bad shot doesn’t cost you any money, and the chances of running out of space on your SD card (if you properly manage it) are very small. Plus, you can delete the many bad shots you took, to make room for more later on.
And not only are pixels free, but so is sharing those photos. Unless you have to have prints made to send to your grandmother, it doesn’t cost anything to share your best shots on Facebook, Instagram, or through email.
So with digital photography, be it through your cell phone or a decent digital camera, making photography so much cheaper, people get to document moments that I wish I’d been able to 20, 30, or 40 years ago.
The old saying is that a picture’s worth 1000 words. I look at it differently…I say a picture’s worth 1000 memories. Memories that help us revisit important moments from our past. Memories that help us share these moments with others, especially our children and grandchildren. I look at the few pictures I was able to take on the many choir tours I went on as an undergrad, and I wish I had been able to take more. There were so many great memories…and they become more important, they accrue more interest, as I get farther and farther from the actual events. I think of the few pictures I took of my friends, (because who carried a camera around with them all the time back then?), and wish that I had been able to take more…especially of those who are no longer with us.
And when I think of the many pictures from my teenaged years that I don’t have, I wish that someone had done a little more documenting, so I’d have something to show my kids from when I was their age.
So are “kids these days” no longer capable of “living in the moment” because they’re too busy documenting things with their cameras? I don’t think so. I think that taking the pictures is an important part of that moment. It helps to give them a tangible memory for years later, and a story to tell their children and grandchildren, or nieces and nephews.
Do some people overdo it? Of course. There are always people who overdo everything. But I see nothing wrong with taking pictures of the moment to look back on when you’re old and gray.
Especially since I’m old and gray now. And I’m taking pictures to look back on when I’m older and gray.