How Technology Has Stripped Away The Meaning Of A Photo

“That’s such a Kodak moment.”

Remember when a photo used to mean something.

Captivating sceneries and sunsets were taken to remember family vacations 10 years from now. Group photos were a mix of gushing, saying cheese, smiling, and taking in the wonderful “Kodak moment” you were able to capture.

As much as I am thankful for the ease and efficiency that technology has brought to our lives, with each and every technological advancement, I feel as though the essence of every action is being diluted. Taking a photo, sending a text message, capturing a video, reading an article, clicking “like” to tell someone congratulations. These were all mediums that used to have some meaning. Sending postcards with cheesy-commercialized photos of your vacation destination’s major landmarks used to be the norm. I have memories of filling up every inch of space on the back of those postcards trying to successfully describe to my grandparents how much fun I was having in Disney World in 200 words or less, even if that required me to write vertically. It’s scary to think that suggesting to our future children that they send their grandparents a postcard will be obsolete. Why would they send a postcard when they can just FaceTime Grandma and Grandpa instead?

A picture now could be a screenshot, an Instagram post, a selfie, a Snapchat with a fancy filter; the possibilities really are endless. We take pictures to provide people with a play-by-play of our daily activities. If you’re ever wondering where someone is, try checking their Snapstory, or Insta-story, or yes even their Facebook-Messenger “Day.”

I have always had an infatuation with photography (so you can imagine my instant obsession when Instagram became a thing). I love how so much can be captured in a photo: emotion, ambiance, scenery.

A picture literally is a thousand words.

As much as Instagram has exponentially increased photographers’ exposure, I feel that it has also taken away from the talent associated with the art form. Now anyone can take a mediocre photo, slap a filter on it and claim that they possess photographic talent. Photography is so much more than filters and photoshop edits. There’s aperture, shutter speeds, the rule of thirds, etc. As someone who has taken photography classes, invested in a DSLR, and took pride in capturing that perfect photo it’s bittersweet to hear that every time a new iPhone is released, the camera is that much better. “Shot with an iPhone 6” and “Professional quality in your pocket.” It’s great that these technological advancements have increased accessibility and exposure of the medium, but it also hurts to hear professional photographers be discredited and have their talents diminished. A photo is so much more than just how clear the camera is and how far you slid the exposure setting on your phone’s editing features.

We are not all professional photographers.

Now, this rise in camera access has also lead to a rise in seemingly-random models and “public figures” (aka people sharing what they do, what products they use, etc.). While public figures have risen as a new guerilla marketing campaign for companies, I can’t help but wonder how sustainable this obsession with what other people do is. If anything, it’s definitely not healthy for our self-esteem.

The argument has been made that our generation is narcissistic; constantly taking photos of ourselves, the outfits we wear, the food we eat, the air we are currently breathing. Well yeah, no shit we all have a little bit of narcissism in us. When the technology exists to update the world on your every move and thought, sooner or later you’re going to take advantage of it.

And this idea that technology has turned forms of communication and media topsy-turvy applies to a lot more than just the visual space. Hell, 10 years ago the idea of me periodically sharing my thoughts with the world via blogs and online articles was far from existence. So maybe when all is said and done I’m just being one hell of a hypocrite? Could be, I really don’t know.

What I do know is that I miss the days of getting in front of the disposable camera during family vacations, smiling ear to ear in front of Cinderella’s castle in Disney World as my father said “cheese.” Those memories and developed photos were something I cherished, and whether it’s fortunate or unfortunate that I can just search the “Disney World” location on Instagram’s discovery is still up for debate.

Featured Image from pexels.

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