Interesting thoughts on photography - I have the photo, but I don't remember being there


Mu-43 Hall of Famer
From the always wonderful Metafilter, a great discussion on an article at NPR about -

Overexposed? Camera Phones Could Be Washing Out Our Memories

The TL;DR consensus seems to be that this is nothing new and its mostly another post about technology-anxiety.

Some interesting points raised that set me thinking, not so much about taking too many pictures to the detriment of memory, more about what comes afterwards - where do all those photos go and how often do they get looked at (my father took and mounted 1000's of slide photos but we only ever viewed a few - do families do slideshows anymore) ? Where will archivists find these images in the future (what happens to an encrypted HDD when you die ? will anyone care about your pictures (or any data for that matter) ?) ? Or will the imagery achieve immortality via the internet-archive (assuming it was public) ?

Yeah, I'm feeling a little existential today . . .


Mu-43 Top Veteran
I have some of the same thoughts. I told the family, to do with them what ever they wanted. I don't usually go back and look at them very often now, and am not going to need them afterward, nor do I care what they decide, when I'm gone.
I enjoyed the taking of them, and that's good enough for me. Oh, there's over 50 years worth.


Mu-43 Veteran
this is an extension of a previous discussion on this forum... where someone had some opposing views.... but mine remains:

in the future, my grandchildren could punch my name on his computer/virtual tablet/folding wristwatch computing device..... out will pop a timeline of my whole life and a corresponding photo for each place with a location

-most of my stuff is already published (and thus archived) via flickr, facebook, google drive, or sent across google/email services, blog posts, etc (and thus archived)
-face-recognition technology already exists to identify me
-it'll be a trivial task for future software to scan and extract thousands of photos from thousands of sources for exif data and aggregate/compile them and index my life timeline
-there'll be soooooooooo much public photos to build a profile of geographic locations, that a software can scan photos and reasonably place a location (w/o gps-embed). google is already doing this

basicaly, the technology already exist, and as with all future prognostication, that just means im likely to be hugely underestimating the capabilities of tomorrow.


Mu-43 All-Pro
I think there is something in this. If you are busy taking photographs, it tends to disturb and weaken the experience of the event you are at. I remember last year when photographing polo in Nepal, at half time a TV crew came up to interview me about the match. I actually couldnt remember anything about it, I didnt know the score, the names of any of the players and which team was which. And as a side note, I have a friend who is a keen photographer who used to always takes tons of photos of his kid when they were out doing stuff. His kid now hates cameras and photography because all he remembers is his Dad taking photos rather than enjoying stuff with him.

Obviously some people need/enjoy documenting their entire life but my life certainly isnt interesting enough to document. As for preserving memories I think you have to be careful that you create a worthwhile memory in the first place. A lot of the time - weddings for instance - I dont take along my camera partly because if I did I would spend the whole time taking photos.


Unique like everyone else
^ and that same kid will one day realize the real worth of his kiddie pictures, and regret not appreciating dad more. Thus to honor dad he takes up photography upon the birth of his first kid. And the beat goes on ...

Sent from my iPhone


Mu-43 Top Veteran
I've lately, quit taking a camera everywhere. I don't, in my declining years, have enough energy (physical and mental), to be in the moment, and a photographer, at the same time. Choosing to "be there", rather than looking at the event later in picture form. An awful lot of my life has been viewed from behind the camera. And, the experience is not the same. We need "balance". Just my view, looking back. But, now looking forward. :smile:
I don't know how I feel about this, I always take a camera with me, constantly am taking photographs or so it seems but I remember what I have been doing where I go etc. There is a book Zen and the Archer, its basic premise is practice practice practice until the bow becomes as though it is superfluous it is not thought about and it is just an extension of the archer. This seems to me where a lot of people lose time, they spend too long messing around to get the picture, the camera (phone) should not be thought about and once that is achieved it won't matter how many photographs a person takes they still will be in the moment.


Photon Mangler
Interesting thoughts guys.

I only ever lift my camera to my eye after first having a VERY long look at my surroundings. Sure, you can't do that with sports/action photography but I leave those images to people who know more than me/have the right equipment for the job.

I take many more images and discard them with my MK I eyeball than I ever do with any of my cameras. :thumbup:

And I'm willing to bet I'm not alone in that...


Mu-43 Veteran
i started traveling heavily after getting out of school, but was never that into photography.

thus all the photos are "destination photos" of landmarks, standing in front of landmarks, etc.

now in my head i have memories of mundane moments - enjoying scenery from inside a train, sitting having a breakfast-at-home with friends, waiting around on a bicycle tour, just a feel of the neighborhood i spent that week in, etc. these are the moments i miss, and the moments i wish were captured in photos.

thats why i take more pics now. allows me to think over and observe smaller details. and lets me capture more things that reflect a sense of time and place