Life constantly at the end of a camera lens

These days in the world of social media, it is not uncommon for anybody and everybody to share their lives with friends, family and strangers through the art of photography.  Anybody can do it, if you own a mobile phone chances are you are constantly carrying around a camera. Most people chose to use their camera daily, if not multiple times a day, to photograph their lives and uploaded it.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not bashing the sharing of photographs. If you want to upload a photo of your dinner then go ahead.  But what I am most intrigued about is another post on Brain Pickings highlighting author Italo Calvino.

What I find interesting is how in 1970 he wrote a short story collection ‘Difficult Loves’ that reflects most accurately how we as a society have become more obsessed with photographs. Below is the quote used by Brain Pickings and I think highlights the point perfectly:

Through the words of one of his characters — a photographer named Antonino — Calvino channels the compulsive nature of our “aesthetic consumerism” and captures our tendency to leave the moment in the act of immortalizing it:

The line between the reality that is photographed because it seems beautiful to us and the reality that seems beautiful because it has been photographed is very narrow… The minute you start saying something, “Ah, how beautiful! We must photograph it!” you are already close to the view of the person who thinks that everything that is not photographed is lost, as if it had never existed, and that therefore, in order really to live, you must photograph as much as you can, and to photograph as much as you can you must either live in the most photographable way possible, or else consider photographable every moment of your life. The first course leads to stupidity; the second to madness.

It is worth reading the whole blog on Brain Pickings as it makes the point better than me and includes other quotes from Calvino.

I think I agree with him. As much as I love photography, I want to appreciate the beauty of the photograph and the subject of the photograph; but have we become so obsessed with photography that we have entered the realms of stupidity and madness?


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