Hands up if the second someone whips out a camera you think- this will be going on Facebook. I want to point out that I am a Facebook fan, and a keen tweeter. However having a slight misfortunate with phones over the years (in other words, I am clumsy and clueless), I have often found myself without the use of a smart phone. Although extremely annoying at times, it has made me aware of the expectation ‘digital lives’ can impose on our actual lives.
Capture or create?
We have begun to do things because it would make a good photo and not because it is a good photo. That sounds like the same thing. But it is that subtle difference lies in whether we capture something or whether we create it? Our ways of documenting memories has changed. The memory involves the act of capturing the photo and not the actual content.
It’s the order that bothers me most. It becomes an opportunity to prove something. We act out of the expectation that we know it will be ‘liked’ and appreciated. We become obsessed with the capturing rather than the content. Why are we not content in being present in the moment, taking in every word, smell and feeling it brings, instead of obsessing over capturing it? We begin to feel the need to justify a moment as a memory by documenting it. And yes, we all love the kick a good like can bring but we risk missing the very essence of a memory but turning into a photo opportunity.
Tie yourself up in knots
The thing about this argument is that it is very easy to tie yourself up in knots- something myself and my favourite bride-to-be, Catherine Hutchinson, realised. So we called in an expert, Simon (Cat’s younger brother) who is a budding photographer. For someone who purposely tries to create something, Simon brought a new light to subject, “For me, digital is about perfection whereas film is much more romantic.” There is an intention when we take a photograph, and that’s the part that scares me. If the intention is to prove something, to make your life look better- the end product risks being a false representation. The stories that people actually tell are always a more authentic and meaningful insight into their lives rather than their supposed best bits I’ve already seen online. It’s all too easy these days to portray yourself as something you’re not. And I hate to break it to you, but if what is underneath your ‘digital life’ is hollow, people can probably tell.
And I get it, sometimes a photo is just a photo. Sometimes it’s lovely to share photo’s, I do it too. But when I was mulling over all of this, I couldn’t stop thinking of a good line I heard in church, ‘Your character is who you are when no one is looking’. So I put the question to you- who are you when the camera isn’t looking? I want my company to be just as enjoyable as my pictures. I want my silly moments to be just as strange as my snapchats. And I want my story to say more about me than what my facebook profile does.
I am not saying uploads are a bad thing. I love seeing what my friends are doing back home when I’m in Scotland. I love seeing pictures of my sister and her hubby’s adventures in Australia. I love being able to be allowed access to someone’s world. But my annoyance lies in what we are creating, is it an illusion or is it authentic? Our digital lives should be an overflow of our authenticity, not the compensation creation of our daily lives.
“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” Ansel Adams