Photography and Image Capture

Back in the day a camera was just for taking photographs and a phone was something that was attached to the wall in our houses. We had to insert a film roll into a camera and when it was full we took it into a Pharmacy where it was developed and we picked up the prints a few days later. We mainly took photographs on high days and holidays and sometimes the finished film rolls lay undeveloped in a drawer for years.

Is all in one better?

Nowadays, a phone is a communications device, a computer, a camera, a music player, a video recorder/player, an organiser, a photo album, a library and whatever else we want it to be. There truly has been a communications revolution.  As for the humble camera, well how is it to compete? It is after all still just a camera. Well yes there has been a digital revolution but it didn’t just happen for cameras. It happened for phones and every other image-capturing technology. A decent camera it seems is now purchased by those who are a bit more serious about photography than the rest of us. Not just professionals and hobbyists but those who want more artistic control by using the manual controls such as shutter speed, aperture and ISO. And of course a professional looking camera with a big lens looks cool slung over the shoulder.

It’s all about ease of use

Digital cameras, whether incorporated in phones or just on their own have changed photography for the masses. No more paying for bad photographs to be developed; we can ditch the bad ones and only keep the good ones.  No more waiting days for prints; we can print them instantly. No more bulky photo-albums.; we can store and organise them on our phones or computer or even download them onto a slideshow frame. No more just special occasion photographs; we take photographs of everything and everyone and send them anywhere, anytime via the internet.

The effects of social media

Social networking and the internet means that we are inundated with digital images constantly. It seems we can’t get enough visual images and they say ‘a picture paints a thousand words’. Well, take the number of photographs shared on Facebook, (20 billion by all accounts) and times it by a thousand and we’re talking a lot of words. Too many some may say, because being exposed to so many images means we get de-sensitised to them. Photographs aren’t so special anymore. We look at most social media images only once and we don’t take the time to appreciate the art in them. But I suppose that’s the price we pay for the democratisation of photography through inexpensive and accessible digital technology.

A change for good or not?

Another concern is the seeming ease of manipulating digital images by means of software such as Photoshop. This means that photographs and their contexts can be changed for good or not so good purposes. It used to be that photographic evidence was damming but now it can’t be relied on because some of the creative editing and manipulation is practically undetectable. And when a fake photograph is published on the internet there’s no getting it back.

So are the traditional romantic days when we could sit with our partner’s parents browsing happily through their old baby albums gone forever? Well, in a word yes. It won’t be quite so cosy with us all crowded round the computer terminal searching through thousands of files for the right ones.