OPINION: Call me a shutterbug, but some day family will thank me [The Dispatch, Lexington, N.C. :: ]
(Dispatch, The (Lexington, NC) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) June 28--Since the invention of the camera, families have taken photos at important events. These include births and weddings, the first day of school and high school graduation, family reunions, proms and so much more. And of course family trips generate many picture-taking opportunities.
These pictures provide a chronicle of one's life. Parents can look back over photos of their children and watch them grow up. Photos document those special times in life and bring memories flooding back.
Taking photos is easier than ever, too. More and more Americans use smartphones that often have cameras that take excellent pictures. Even regular cellphones can take photos, even if the quality isn't quite as high. While some folks still use single-lens reflex cameras or point-and-shoot models, more and more rely on their phones to capture events.
The ubiquitous nature of phones with cameras can serve as both a blessing and a curse. One is always ready to take a photo or video; that's one reason amateur shots from breaking news events often appear. But it also means the amount of photos has grown exponentially, and the desire to take photos can sometimes take precedence over enjoying an event itself.
This debate plays itself out in the Killebrew family. I like to whip out my iPhone and take pictures when we're traveling or during events. So I have photos from our college visits in April, high school graduation-related events in May and June, sports games and others. I even took a tripod on our honeymoon back in 1991 so I would be able to take photos of both my wife and I using the self-timer on my Olympus OM-10.
My family has started to resist my photo taking, especially my older son. He often places a quota -- usually one or two -- on pictures during our travels. He took great pleasure this week in sending me a link to an article in which a writer argued taking photos diminishes the actual event being experienced.
My wife tried to appease both me and my son, saying I take too many pictures while he's overly resistant (call her a fence-straddler). Yet she was the one who picked a baby picture to include on his graduation announcement. What if no one had captured the photo of that smiling baby wearing the "Future President of America" shirt?
The great thing about digital photography is one can take photos and quickly delete those that don't turn out well. So I suppose I err on the side of taking photos in the hopes I capture a nice shot that will mean something both now and in the future. I've been particularly aware of this when visiting my parents, since my mother suffers from Alzheimer's disease. I received a lot of positive comments about one I took in March of my mother and myself, and I have some touching ones of my parents taken in the last couple of years, too.
Those comments came from Facebook when I posted the photo of Mom and me. Social media also allows people to widely disseminate photos to the masses. No longer do just family members and close friends see photos.
I do think some folks post too many photos to Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites. It's very doubtful I'll click through 291 pictures of someone's vacation to the beach on Facebook. If they post a half-dozen or so, then I will spend time looking at them. So I try to be judicious in the number of photos I post to social media.
Our digital photo collection goes back to about 2001, and we have prints that chronicle our married life and children. I still make prints today of the best digital photos. Technology can change, but as long as I have a copy of a photo, I'll have something to look at years from now.
We've talked about spending some time this summer looking back over photos of our older son before he heads off to college in September. He might just roll his eyes at our sentimentality and head back to his bedroom, but my wife and I will enjoy that trip back down memory lane. And I bet she'll be glad at that point that I've been such a fanatic about chronicling our lives over the years, too.
Chad Killebrew is executive editor of The Dispatch. He can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 215, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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