Digitization of photography has not killed the value of the photograph


Photo by Luke Sazarin
Photo by Luke Sazrin

Gone are the days of gathering around the coffee table with grandma and grandpa looking at old photo albums, reminiscing on the “good ol’ times”. The once tangible book of memories is now stored digitally on websites such as Facebook and Instagram, collecting self-validating likes never to be shared again.

Although this is the current stigmatism around Facebook albums and other media outlets, they do fulfill the same job they were intended for: collecting and re-sharing memories.

With photography becoming more accessible than ever before, one has to ask, does photography really mean anything anymore?

Having the ability to save thousands upon thousands of photos online, not having to be limited to the amount of film in your camera, has the prestige and value behind each individual photo been lost?

No, it has not.

The meaning behind each individual photograph depends us. If the person taking the photo has some connection to it and sees the photograph as having value, whether it be photos from a concert, a leaf or even a selfie, then it does have meaning. The value and meaning placed on any photo is measurable only to the extent of the interpreter.

“I don’t think [photography] is becoming less meaningful, I think it’s becoming what music was in the early 2000s, late 90s where there is still a lot of great stuff but you have to sort through a lot more junk to find the really good gems,” Malcolm Wegg said, an employee at Henry’s — a photography shop in Mississauga.

Of course this looks at photography not only as an art form but also on a personal level. Think about it, when you’re out taking dozens upon dozens of photos, posing with your friends, amongst all the blurry, shaking and blinking photos, there is that one perfect photo that summarizes your night. This one photo is that same gem Wegg is talking about.

Now what? You have the photo and it’s on your phone. You post it to Instagram or add it to your Facebook album and just leave it there forever to rot away. Simple, right? Wrong.

This mindset is the outcome of oversimplifying what Facebook albums do.

You see, we use it only for its present value which is self validation through likes. This may not apply to everyone, but for a fair chunk of people, it is the truth. There is nothing wrong with this, but we have to think about the lifetime value of this image. Facebook albums help us archive images without us even realizing we are doing it.

What was once a meticulous task of filing away each individual photo is now a simple click of the upload button to gather the real-time likes of our peers.

From a slideshow projector of photographs on film, to sitting around the coffee table reminiscing on dusty photo albums, Facebook is just the next generation of photography memories.

We should welcome the easy accessibility of it with open arms rather than criticize it with our negative naysaying.

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