This weekend was Father’s Day weekend and so I spent it at home with my family. Away went the black and white film and out came my Nikon camera to shoot family pictures. My 10 year old son was participating in his first triathlon and needless to say I was there to document the event. My wife loves to post these family documents on FaceBook. I do not have a Facebook account and I never will. I guess I am not one for pictorial small talk.
When I am shooting family pictures I am not looking for art, just some nice photographs to share with others which is what 99% of all the photos floating around in that maelstrom of social media consists of and there is nothing wrong with that. Instead of putting them away in a box as our parents did we post them on Facebook or Instagram or tumblr. Let’s just not get all hot and bothered by the fact that there are billions and billions of images being created, the way important photo people are want to do. There are millions and millions of prints in shoe boxes and under beds, in attics, and in garages all over the world but no one breaks a sweat over them, mainly because they are not visible. The only difference is that now all of our pictorial detritus is visible to millions of people and the images become a short hand way of speaking. A new language. Instead of describing that wonderful burger you had at the new place down the block you tweet me a picture of your dinner. It’s just words. Most of these pictures/hieroglyphics are meant to be only temporary the way words are only temporary. They exist just long enough to make communication possible and then they are gone forever. Evidence for this way of using pictures is Snapchat which sends your friends a picture that only lasts a few seconds. Just long enough to communicate and then poof – gone forever.
Of course just like a well practiced speaker may sometimes creates poetry or art from his/her performance, sometimes a snap-shooter creates something more universally significant than just a family picture.