In a very short period of time the printed photo – the ones that we actually paid to get printed, have seemingly become obsolete. Like the VHS humble tape, analogue photography has faded into the pages of history, and the use of a camera that isn’t also a phone, is now seen as a niche reserved for professionals or fans of novelty and nostalgia.
Our relationships are the things that we universally wish to document, but does a pouty selfie of a couple really equal the snapshots taken with an old-school camera? Is there something more significant about a moment caught on film, as opposed to a digital version that’s likely to be one of many?
The truth is that like most things, its a matter of personal taste. Future generations won’t have to ponder the value of these new medias, because the digital selfie version of a couple will be the only one they know about. However, at this particular time of year especially, when the build-up to Christmas has begun and we’re reminded of those special moments actually worth documenting, I’m inclined to think that there is a massive difference in our intent when using the two mediums.
After all, the process of analogue photography requires more time and dedication. Plus, you have to be prepared to squirm at some unflattering angles when you get your photos back, and deal with a few novice images that you’ll probably throw away (the classic “finger over the lens” being a common culprit of this). Ultimately though, the photos are for you and you alone – yes you might take the photo album out once or twice a year to show guests, and frame a selection of good ones to place above your fireplace, but really they act as a documentation of your loved ones for your eyes only. This arguably makes those images more meaningful than the selfie, where the intention is to garner as many likes, views etc. as possible.
There’s nothing wrong with digital photography of course; the quality is second to none and we have the luxury of photographing more than we ever have before. Yet there’s a reason why wedding photographers still exist – the moments that we hold dearest require a physical representation; a totem that becomes our only connection to that special time and place.