We’ve taken more photos in the last year than have ever been captured in two hundred years. In fact, we just passed the anniversary of the first photograph recorded. Sure, there have always been societies dating back tens of thousands of years that have used and utilised the ability of impressions in stone and bleached by the sunshine, but I’m talking as far as photographs being “drawing with light” on a paper or stock card.
Digital cameras weren’t invented until 1972, and weren’t actually working until 1975. To give you some perspective, ALL digital photographs ever taken have been since I was born.
Out of those, I’m going to be generous and assume 0.001% of those photos will remain a year from now, let alone a decade or longer. There are ten major areas that have evolved over time with cameras. Let’s look at them briefly:
B/W (black and white) film – original style, though it has been refined and perfected over the centuries, it has merit, beauty, and style that is incredibly appealing.
Cinematic (35mm, and other styles used in large format movie stills)
Colour – this changed the game of photography, and ushered in a whole new era of options of light, contrast, luminosity, polarisation, and many other techniques.
Satellite (ie the Hubble Telescope’s camera, New Horizons’ camera imaging, and even the Mars robots, Curiosity and Rover’s cameras)
Underwater – the specific pressurisation and extremely complicated technology that is required is still evolving today.
Smartphones, tablets, and commercial grade digital cameras.
Professional digital cameras
Video cameras – from the 1980s models of the big clunky VHS recorders (and previously the canister style disc holder ones of the 60’s and 70’s), all the way to the GoPro, and other models currently on the market.
Webcams – in all their various forms: solo portable units, embedded into laptops/tablets/smartphones/tv units, security and CCTV cameras, etc.
Micro Cameras – ie the “spy cam” – be it the ‘Nanny Cam’ inside the teddy bear on the shelf, or the dashcam/lapel cam for drug busts, etc.
Let’s say: 1,000,000,000 people have smartphones.
Remember, these are low estimates (the number is closer to 3 billion), to put things in perspective and keep the numbers “round”.
Out of those 1 billion smartphones
Let’s assume that 10,000,000 photos are taken per day:
Out of those, let’s immediately cut that number in half, as being unusable in any form – too small, too large, blurry, duplicate, not centered, not enough or too much light… you get the idea.
So now we’re left with 5,000,000 photos per day:
Out of these, we’re chopping another half out, simply for the fact that we have the best intentions to share them, but we get caught up in life and they get buried in our smartphones and might get transferred to a computer or laptop, but chances are, won’t be accessed ever again after the shutter is clicked. Too busy to share.
We’re down to 2,500,000 photos per day:
Out of these, I’m going to be brutally honest and say a good portion of these shouldn’t be shared, but sadly are. Poor lighting or exposure is only one issue, amongst many, including illegal ones, so I’m going to cut out a million pics from the list just for “should not share, but sadly have”, because only a fraction of the world’s populace will ever see these. Yes, even on Facebook. In order to get you past that now icky feeling, just think of these as the “I don’t remember posting my toe as my new profile picture. What did I drink last night?”
Wow, only 1,500,000 photos left per day:
Out of this, a cool million will likely get uploaded to the various sites around the globe, as profile pictures (wanted, no stray toes this time), lolcats, ‘there I fixed it’, etc. Sadly, none of these will ever see print either.
Down to only 500,000 photos per day (around the world):
Out of these, we’ll take most (400,000) of them for what I’ll call single use prints. These are the ones that are staged houses for real estate brokers, photos used in court cases, and things of that nature, that cannot be repeated in the same fashion or way ever again. Generally, after the one time event, they are rarely ever shared with anyone, and they are limited viewing.
Leaving simply 100,000 photos per day:
Out these, I’m going to split this into four categories: region, culture, family, and other. The Region (10,000/day) ones are taken by/for a city, country, etc for promotional or other reasons, and will gladly share this with the world repeatedly. Cultures (20,000/day) celebrate their holidays and mark special occasions with books, pamphlets, and other memorable collectible items. Family (20,000/day), well you know where you keep your old Polaroids; scrapbooks, picture frames, photo albums, and even some etched into plates, crystal ornaments, and other decorative objects that collect dust. The ‘other’ (50,000/day) includes NASA and other international space exploration pictures, new uploaded Google Maps locations from people visiting, from Google driving around, and other “others” like that.
That’s 20,000 photos to make it to possible permanent print around the world. Now, put that into the initial context of nearly 3 billion smartphone users, and that’s 0.01% of the actual taken amount of photographs kept in a day from a smartphone. To give you a hint as to how little that really is, ONE phone dump from my Android 8GB hard drive has over 9500 pictures on it. I empty this thing monthly, and that’s not including the hundreds of pics and videos I take and delete before the phone dumps.
If that’s just MY phone dump for April 2016 (it was the first one I grabbed from my pictures folder), it doesn’t take long to show how underestimated my generalised counts are. We’re not even talking about (sorry to be stereotypically real for a moment, but bear with me, it’s true for a large demographic of young female smartphone users) teenage girls. I knew three off hand who on average, took anywhere (we counted their phones one day, just for fun) from low end (the older sister, 19yr old) 25 pictures/day, the middle end (the youngest sister, 15 years old) 180/pics a day, and the high end (middle sister, 17 yrs old) 320 pics/day. Yes, most of those were selfies, and most of those were duck-face/peace sign/camera tilt, etc. The flip side of this, is their father when asked later that day, had to search for the camera icon, that’s how infrequently he used his. He had precisely four photographs in his gallery, and each one of them was of an obscure, 98% darkened spot, most likely his finger over the lens, or from the inside of his pocket.
The point about all this, is that with every photo we take, we don’t stop to consider how much we could potentially share, and how fortunate we live in such a technologically wonderful era that we are able to expend millions of digital pictures for sake of a good selfie, if it means it makes us smile.
Another side note, is that for whatever the reason may be, from divorce to witness protection to just being “done” with social media, we may even LOSE the precious memories we have uploaded to share. In my haste to make sure I had a safe profile after being hacked, I had no idea I would need to have permanent copies of my pictures. Two weeks after I started my new social media account (facebook in particular), my hard drive on my old laptop seized up, and I lost EVERYTHING. Including the original digital pics of the items I had so glibly not made copies of two weeks before. Life happens when you least expect it to, and it doesn’t relent until you’re out of pictures and wishing you had that oh-so-hilarious-picture of your bestie that is now gone forever.
So, what do we do instead? Simple answer: PRINT. Make copies of digital. Make them real hard copies as well.
I have had the opportunity to begin (last year) truly learning what it means to plan a shot. I am only doing black and white stills with my Canon, and hubs is developing the pictures by hand, and so far all the pictures you see on here for b/w (including the Creative Journey Facebook Group banner picture) are shots I proudly share from my own collection.
I’m in no way ever going to claim I’m as incredible a photographer as Sebastian Selgado; but then again, he’s one of the greatest, and he’s too humble to say he’s as phenomenally exceptional at his photo taking as he is. *If you don’t know who this man is, do yourself a favour and go to Google NOW.*
It has been said that this is the most photographed time ever, and yet very little of it will survive a decade. Thousands of pictures of children now, but maybe twenty actual photographs printed out for when they are leaving for college, getting married, or for their retirement party.
So I propose the following: Memory Makers. You pick and choose as you see fit, and we’ll slowly build a scrapbook together of real photos, special memories, and even plane tickets and more, so you have something to share with others and have more than a virtual world to have to link to your online photo albums.
Be it a decoupage headboard of special silly moments from a childhood, a scrapbook full of college memories, a wedding album that won’t break the bank to create and add to each anniversary… the list can be only as limited as your imagination and desire to create a lasting memory. I even have memory maker pages for (most of) my second #100days Journey. Cats, kids, weddings, graduations, moving to a new country, taking up a new hobby, chronicling your favourite tv series through cosplay pictures; the options are endless and are waiting for you.
I have a bag of scrapbook pieces of memories that need photos to “set the mood” and recall the moment with a laugh or a sigh or a poignant viewpoint. Once we’re unpacked, I’ll start searching around for the pieces, and as I put that together, I’ll share that creative journey with you.
I might even utilise the “online scrapbook” option, to save me from having to find a craft supply store here on
Nevis & St Kitts Antigua (yeah, I started this when we were back in Monkeyland) I can print the pages out, or even have them printed and bound for me as a full book from what I understand of it. We’ll have to walk through that together.