What runs in your head when you take a photograph? Do you think about the likes that you’ll get on social media platforms? Do you think about how many friends and family you can ‘wow’ with the photograph? Or do you think about the fun moment that is happening and want to make a memory out of it? Most of the time, taking a photograph is a subconscious decision. Whether it is for likes or to preserve a memory, your motivation for taking the photograph is to review it later and derive value from it.
There is a large difference between photography for today and photography for tomorrow. With the ubiquitous availability of phone cameras, there has been a rise of taking photographs just for today. If you have been to any popular tourist spot in India, you will no doubt witness endless selfies and photographs being taken from all sorts of angles. Majority of those photos will disappear before the end of the year, be it due to mismanagement of files, be it due to the loss of the phone, or simply ‘deleting photos to make space’. And to the person who took the photo, that’s probably fine because the photograph has served its purpose. It has been posted on Facebook, shared on WhatsApp and used as a profile picture. That is pretty much the end of the life for that particular image.
But for professionals like us, we know that good photos age over time like fine wine. They become more important as the people in them pass away, the buildings in them get demolished and the clothes in them are outgrown. The hair lost, the fit body gone. Change happens, whether we like it or not. And photos are the only memory that remains when it happens. With change happening at a faster pace every day, photographs are the only way to relive the past.
A well made photograph will awaken your senses, rekindle your mind to long forgotten sounds, and recover memories from the brain’s archive. It has the power to become a time machine and transport you to a different time and different place. More so than video I feel, because with a photograph, one fleeting moment in time is captured for forever and you can stare it again and again. While in a video, the moment goes as soon as it came. And while we capture photos on phones and other devices on a daily basis, I do question how well each image is stored and archived. Because the real value of some photos will become obvious a few decades after your devices have long stopped working.
And then, the only thing you’ll have are printed wedding albums. Because that’s the only time when your family reunites from all across the globe, the only time you’ll all be dressed in your finest and the only time you’ll hire a professional photographer to document your life. Because by the time the next wedding happens in your family, some people would have moved to other countries, some people would have passed away, relationships would have changed, and the only memory would be the images. Valuing photographs means valuing relationships and loved ones. Valuing photographs means valuing yourself and your choices. Valuing photographs means valuing life.
Currently listening to – Closing Time by Semisonic
Currently reading – The 100-Year Life by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott
Currently watching – Sneaky Pete S03 on Amazon Prime