Today children have access to cameras and photography more than they ever have before historically. Cell phone cameras, pocket sized digital cameras, and other types of image recording are readily available for kids to play with, and many of today’s children are photographed thousands upon thousands of times as they grow up.
Children can become creative artists using photography as their medium at a very young age, whereas it was really hard to get a camera or develop images onto paper 100 years ago. But while it is easier to access the medium and become a photographer, the medium itself has been cheapened by the easy access to it, and the easy consumption of pixels versus expensive rolls of film.
It is very hard to make any profit from photos these days, unless you really are a serious professional who knows how to market photography. So long as you don’t equate profit with success, it is truly remarkable and wonderful that so many people can access photography as an artistic medium today.
At the same time that this accessibility to photography is happening the technology we are using for photography is much less tangible and more temporary than it ever was before. Digital image files often never get printed, often get erased, lost or corrupted. Colour prints don’t last very long. The colours fade and change pretty quickly. This in contrast to the long lasting silver-based technology of black and white film that so many old family albums are full of. Tangible, real photographs you can hold in your hand and pass on to your kids’ kids. They don’t last forever but they are certainly more long lasting than a virtual file in some ways. I guess it depends on how well you can keep up with the technology of archiving digital images. Keeping your tech skills up to date requires maintenance and funds to buy the right equipment. It’s pretty low tech and low maintenance to put a family album into the bookcase and leave it there a few decades.
Digital photography, the internet and social media make it easy to share photography, and very hard to keep any sort of privacy in your life, since so many people feel entitled to photograph everyone and everything with their cell phone camera. Once a photo gets out there on the internet you can’t really get rid of it. This in contrast to a single black and white print that only your family possesses in the family album, a precious record of someone’s life or what they saw in a moment in history. Sharing photography online has positive side and a negative side. Keeping printed photos private preserves control over who sees it, but what if that photo is lost or destroyed? If I invest time and learning into photography, what is the purpose of doing so, besides just accumulating images or increasing my skills? what will I do with all my pictures if I don’t want to share them on the Wild West internet?
Just some interesting contrasts and questions I was thinking about today. I would like to digitize my printed family photos, and I would like to print some of my digital photos. I would like to keep some kind of a long-lasting record of my photos without necessarily printing ALL of them, since digital photography has made it so that I easily have tens of thousands of images on my computer.