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How it Has Changed: Picture Taking Past + Present

Me at 17 on a boat on the Narragansett

Yesterday I went through old photos, not albums as much as just random pictures that were loose in shoe boxes and tucked in envelopes with the negatives from getting them developed. I was looking for certain pictures that I knew I had but couldn’t find. It occurred to me how our lives have changed so much in how we do our picture taking over the past 20 years.

Before digital cameras we were so choosy with our pictures. We didn’t just randomly take pictures of anything, as sometimes I do now. A camera was only brought out for an event, like a birthday gathering, Christmas, reunions, vacations or other special occasions. We used our 35 mm film sparingly, I think, mostly because a 24 exposure roll was like $8 to develop if you went with ‘one hour.’

I was looking through pictures from one vacation we took back in 2004 and I took maybe 50 pictures. We were gone for a week. Today with a 4 GB card in the camera we’d be good for hundreds of pictures and trust me, I’d take them. Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites have really changed how we take pictures. We’re now looking for life’s oddities, silliness and ‘fails.’ I know I’m looking for a duck or two with a teenage face.

Now we take photos with our phones, tablets and cameras. Maybe, we take too many. I know I often think looking at something that this would make a good Facebook picture, or get narcissistic sometimes, and take shots of myself. I used to hate having my picture taken. Now, I love it. If I don’t like it, just hit the delete button.

The only sad part of the digital technology is that there is no surprise when your film gets back. Remember opening that envelope at the drug store, or wherever, and getting all excited to see the pictures you took? Today there is no fun. We know instantly if the picture was good or not.

Here’s an example of a pointless picture taken. “That awkward time between the nurse leaving and the Doctor coming in.” The caption of one of my recent Facebook posts.

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