I don’t take pictures of other people anymore.
And, I’m back from my two weeks summer staycation. But that’ll be another post, after I’ve taken some time to get settled back in and finish cleaning up (and most importantly, retrieve my phone from the cabin, where I forgot it – with all my pics – this morning when I came back to town).
I take thousands of photos. Literally, thousands. I cannot look at a rock without thinking it’s the most beautiful rock I’ve ever seen and attempting to capture it from every angle in every light possible so I can remember it later. I spend far more than my fair share of time alone (with my mutt, of course), and I take thousands of selfies trying to find the right balance of background and myself to make it print or social media worthy, or just to remember where I am and where I have been. There is nothing quite like looking back on a decade worth of photos and realizing your presence has been captured in none of them, or always being the person behind the camera, and having decades worth of events in which your attendance and participation is marked only in your own fading remembrance. So I have started taking my own photo everywhere I go.
Which leads me to why am I not taking photos of other people anymore? I do things with other people. I visited with a fair number of acquaintances and friends and family over my two weeks off, yet besides my boyfriend and immediate family, I have one single photo of one single friend who was visiting in town on our once annual meet and catch up. As I was flipping idly through my phone out on the lake the other day I was disappointed with the notable absence of any other human presence on it. I carried it with me all throughout my holidays, as even though it holds no use to me as a phone or source of internet on my leisure time, I still find it handy as a source of music and as a camera. Yet I still had no photos of anyone else on it.
I spent some time thinking upon this today, and thought of various instances in which I had wanted to get photographs of people or group photos and hadn’t, and realized that with the advent of social media, I have now become uncomfortable asking for a snap. If you were to take a peek at my facebook or Instagram profiles you would probably notice a fair absence of others faces in the many photos that I post. I’m actually scared to ask people to take their picture now, or to get a photo of us together. I have been ever since social media grew to the point where any time I pulled out my very first camera phone I would hear comments like, “That’s not going on facebook, is it?”, “Can you tag me in that?”, “Please don’t post that”, “Can you please post that?”, “Please don’t tag me in that”, “Can I look, we’ll have to take another, I don’t like the way my face looks in that one”. It started getting to the point where some people would expect and almost demand their photo be posted online, where others would try to screen and filter my memories to get their best sides, where others would refuse to partake in a photo op because they assumed it would go straight online.
I admit I post a lot of photos on to social media. I like posting and interacting and keeping my extensive immediate family and out of town family and out of town friends up to date with how I am doing and what I am up to currently. But I do not post much about others outside of my own family and boyfriend and dog, and when I do so it is only with their blessing or with the knowledge that I know they would approve of their virtual presence on my facebook or Instagram page. I am one of those ‘old timers’ that still enjoys compiling my photos and taking them in and having them printed out and framing or gifting them, and stocking up my photo albums and sticking them on my fridge with the random magnet assortment I have kicking about. I enjoy sharing moments with others and being able to look back through the pics I have kicking about, not judging what my unfiltered friends look like, but reminiscing about that time we went downhill skiing in Sunshine, or hit up the hot springs in Banff, or that time we went out on that canoe trip and wound up tenting it on ‘infestation island’. But the threat or allure of social media and the newfound interest/awareness of our own self images it has brought about has killed that for me.
I no longer want to have to cajole my friends into sitting tight and smiling for two seconds so we can capture a moment together. I no longer want to have to promise and swear on x relative’s grave that a photo won’t go online in order to get one. I no longer want to have to retake my photos over and over, getting stilted posed unnatural looking pics that don’t resemble the people I know and love, before filtering them with clarendon or whatever the filter du jour is, and then be compelled to have to post and tag and mark the location on them. And candids? That’s a whole other topic for another day. It’s too much work. It brings out my anxiety. It makes me sad.
So I don’t take pictures of other people anymore.