Digital cameras have given us the ability to take many more pictures than we could have with our 35 mm point-and-shoot; but is this a good thing?
With my old camera, the potential pictures I wanted to take would be carefully selected before I even pressed the shutter button. They would be choreographed and posed. Everybody would be instructed to smile and I would be very put out if someone blinked in the process.
You couldn't tell for sure if someone had blinked, though, because it didn't give you a sneak preview. However, if there was a possibility of blinkage, you had to take another shot because you may never have that particular assemblage of people in that particular venue, ever again. A picture for posterity without blinks is a must. (That makes at least two verbs that I have turned into a noun. My English teachers would be expiring from embarrassment.)
Enter the digital camera. Most cell phones even have the ability to take pictures. This brought a flurry of picture-taking to the forefront of American culture.
Now, I might take a photograph for the sole purpose of remembering how to use that function on my cell phone.
We'll take a picture of a total stranger so that we can show our hairdresser how we want our hair styled.
We'll take a picture of a butterfly whose fluttering has taken it within our personal orbit, because, well, we may never see another butterfly again.
I took a picture of my stomach after I removed a band-aid and it ripped off a layer of skin with it. Why would someone take a picture of that? I guess I thought I would need proof if someone didn't believe me. Come to think of it, if my friends wouldn't believe a story like that, I probably need to get some new friends.
I have a picture of my youngest son's ostrich egg after he ran into a metal pole. It wasn't a goose egg. That's normal. This was an ostrich egg!... and it deserved to be photographed!
We take pictures of birthday cakes as well as the candle blower and our digital cameras are so good, we can see the spit as it hits the cake. Clearly, there are some things we'd rather not see so clearly.
We take pictures of engagement and wedding rings, as if we'll never see those again.
We take pictures of people taking pictures of us.
I even have pictures on my camera that are unrecognizable. I think my camera may have been taking unauthorized pictures of the inside of my purse.
A friend of mine made some tiny braided pastries called Koeksisters and told me to take some home to my husband. My husband took one out of the bag and saw that part of a braid had come undone before frying and was now sticking out the middle of it. He took a picture of it so that he could e-mail it to my friend with a caption that read, "This looks more like a koekbrother."
Taking pictures of random pastries is definitely not something that would have been economically feasible before digital cameras. We would have told the story of the gender-bending pastry, but a picture is always worth a thousand words.
We still tell stories today, but if you didn't take a picture to back up your words, your listener might not believe you, simply because there is no longer any excuse for not taking the picture.
Laura is a syndicated columnist, author, & speaker. You can reach Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org Or visit her website