Reasons for taking pictures
Sort of a cynical take from Kirk Tuck via Phil Gyford:
Even the folks snapping away with their phones seemed less passionate about the endeavor yesterday. Almost as though we’ve all concluded that with the endless torrent of images being constantly shared everywhere that no individual shot or selection of shots matters anymore. Another drop in the ocean. Another futile attempt to carve out some sort of alternate viewpoint. A different visual perspective of a declining culture. Hello “The Americans” except that now everyone with a camera is a Robert Frank.
Gyford echoes the sentiment:
Anywhere that many people have been will have had everything photographed many times. Even a rarer sight might only generate photos that are similar to those taken elsewhere. Your clever composition is unlikely to be that clever or original.
Creating new visual content to put online and entertain people is not going away, even if Instagram perishes and Facebook albums become a historical relic. People will continue to post pictures of food and landscapes and friends online until the end of time.
But I think that the vast majority of pictures living in our iCloud Photo Libraries or on Google Photos aren't for public consumption, but for private viewings alone, or with friends with whom the photographed moment was shared. Photos snapped on my phone aren't masterpieces awaiting recognition; they're little snippets of my life that I know my soft brainulum is too weak to recall accurately many years hence.
Maybe I'm more of a visual thinker—maybe that's why photos are such a comfort to me in wistful moments after the sun goes down, when I turn back on days gone by. I struggle to remember what it was like to be somewhere, what it was like to experience something, without a photo or a little 10-second clip of video to put me right back in the moment.