Photography Social Media Tech

The Beginning of a New Photo Era


I love Instagram. I publish to it once every day. But lately, it’s making me bored and immune to photography.

Instagram isn’t edgy enough. There’s no story. Everyone takes a good picture. The line between professional and amafessional is blurry. The same can be said for VSCOcam which is beginning to develop its own artistic sameness. Meanwhile, Snapchat is raw and fun. Your snaps aren’t supposed to look beautiful. In fact, those selfie filters make you look worse.

But it isn’t the photographs or the social network as much as our addictive habits that are responsible for photography’s malaise. We document everything and keep everything because the cloud backs it up. What’s another picture in an infinite inventory of cloud space?

Last week, I blogged about Google photos doing a lot of the picture stitching for us. Algorithms that automatically organize and create visualizations out of our photos (and eventually videos) save us a lot of the creative groundwork, so all we need to do is publish.

I tend to think that my own digital frustrations become indicative of the broader tech community at some point. Maybe I’m ahead, or maybe I’m just burning out (thank you algorithms). But I do know one thing: I just can’t get through all this content. I can hardly get through my camera roll; never mind reviewing Snapchat stories at the end of the day.

“we have come to a point in society where we are all taking too many photos and spending very little time looking at them.” – Om Malik

Photography isn’t the problem. It’s the obsession with taking photos and our insouciance toward the actual moment. To steal another one from Om: “Today we don’t even think twice about snapping a shot.”

I don’t even think anymore. I just shoot to see what I can catch because I don’t want to miss that little speck of light or the dog’s wink. Perhaps, running out of space on our devices is the best thing to happen to us. We finally give up because we’re forced to look up.

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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of and four books.