rockym93 dot net

archive · tags · feed

Photo Spam

02 February 201109:14AMrants

There's a task which I've been dreading since I got back from overseas. I keep putting it off, even though it should've been one of the first things I did when I got home. I'm talking about sorting my holiday photos. At last count there are over one and a half thousand, taking up about 10 gigs of space. Applying any kind of sense to a collection that large is like trying to tame an adult male african elephant, and then eat it piece by piece. There are duplicates. There are rubbish photos. There are six photos of the same place from different angles. There are countless failed self-portraits, because I was too scared to give my camera to a stranger (in Egypt, justified, in Europe, not so much.)

So I'm left wondering: with that many photos, how many will I actually look at? As the French would say, il y en a trop. Especially considering I've already essentially picked up the best ones and put them on here anyway. I'm not going to 'just flick through' 1500 photos, and certainly nobody else wants to sit there for a couple of hours while I show them off.

Which brings me to my point: What exactly is the purpose of taking this many photos? After some consideration, I managed to sort holiday photos into this Highly Scientific Graphâ„¢:

I even labelled my axes, see?

As far as I see it, the purpose of taking photos on holiday is twofold. The first function is to remember your holiday. This is the most immediately obvious reason, and probably why most people take photos, or at least why they think they take photos. I noticed another reason on my trip which I'd never previously thought of. This purpose was proof. I was taking photos to document interesting things (like the egg ute) in order to back up my later telling (or writing, as the case may be) of the story with evidence. These fall under D on my Highly Scientific Graphâ„¢. The other form of proof is what my mum refers to as the Me-At photo, or Category A. These photos are used to prove merely that yes, I was at the Pyramids, and have the secondary purpose of being pretty decent memories of the trip. (Since drawing the graph, I've realised the B is not in fact 'impossible' - it's actually 'photos with the locals', another very worthwhile category.)

Photo Spam is not proof. Photo Spam is taking photos for the sake of taking photos. It's what too many tourists fall into the trap of doing. It's where you become so focused on taking pictures of something that you forget that you're there to see it and not to photograph it. It's a trap I could've fallen into, and didn't probably only because I was concentrating on taking notes (literally) for my blog instead which, while similarly detatched, at least requires some level of thinking about the place you're at rather than mindlessly snapping away. Not that I'm disparaging people who are genuinely interested in photography. There are some incredible photos out there of the pyramids. There are also probably thousands of times more good ones, and a million times more mediocre to terrible ones, by people who came, saw, and photographed. Do I need yet another photo of the pyramids when there are thousands on flickr? (Obviously this isn't sustainable though, otherwise there would be no photos on flickr.)

So here's my point. It is very easy to fall into the trap of taking photos instead of enjoying the experience. This doesn't just apply to holidays. Is there really any point in taking a camera to a party, so you can spend all night taking photos of an event which consisted entirely of taking photos, so you can put them up on Facebookand comment on how great it was to get together and take photos of each other? Does photographing something add to the experience?

Maybe if you concentrate on enjoying the moment instead of taking a photo, you won't need a photo to be your memory of the event. You'll have actual memories instead.

< Some accidental analysis. The Movie That Never Was >