I Don’t Take Pictures of Other People Anymore

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.



Author: thebrokegirlsguidetobetterliving

Welcome! I am "thebrokegirl", aka Mandy. And what makes me a broke girl? Being a single income household, living the best life I can alongside my big grumpy dog obviously, but also because I'm not perfect - I'm broke - I'm a work in progress, which is exactly how I want to stay! My passion for writing, research, trying new things and wanting to help and inspire others are what inspired me to start this blog. So what makes me an expert on better living? Nothing! I'm just a girl trying. And what is better living? It's mindfulness, small changes, simple acts, baby steps to help make your day, your health, your environment, your life just that little much better. I'm on a lifelong journey to level up my life, and invite you to share that journey alongside me!

20 thoughts on “I Don’t Take Pictures of Other People Anymore”

  1. Wow! This is a remarkable insight into the impacts of digital photography and social media’s influences on us. I have very few photos of myself because I am usually the one taking them and (I am ashamed to admit) I am too self-conscious to take very many selfies. It is hard to capture moments anymore. Most of those captured are staged. Candid photos hold a special place in my heart (and always will). Thank you for sharing your insights.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Aww! I know how you feel – I used to get so self conscious about it too (felt like a teenager lol), but realized that I literally had about 20 years of 0 photographs of myself, and I don’t want to not ‘exist’ anymore. I’ve always been the person taking the pics too. I was with my ex for 8/9 years and he took maybe less than 5 pics of me in all that time – most were just my rear end. I know I was at those events, he does, everyone else does, but I have nothing to look back at and say ‘here I was!’. I also just spent 2 weeks out in a cabin on the lake with basically just my dog (the man worked every day, all day), and that’s my vacation every year. I want to have pics of myself as memories too; if I ever have a family I would like them to see what I looked like one day, and I (tbh) would like to share snippets of what I am up to and what I currently look like with my family and friends (we’re spread out all over the country) via social media (I joined facebook to interact more easily with them)… if I didn’t take my own damn pictures I wouldn’t have any. So I learned to suck it up. (That doesn’t mean you’re gonna find me in a bikini, sucking it in, sprawled out, full pucker, filtered to perfection anywhere however!!)
      And I really miss the days of candid and casual fun shots. I never actually cared if I looked bad; I was just happy someone wanted to capture a memory with me. I’m really sort of backwards actually – I found a couple of photos that my boyfriend and one of my friends had put online of me and they had filtered them, and I gave them hell for it. They said they weren’t the most flattering pics, and I insisted I looked just fine the way I originally was lol. The fact is, everyone I’m friends with via social media knows what I look like in real life, so if I have a fantastic head shot or a pic of me looking like I’ve just crawled through hell and back online, it doesn’t really make a difference at the end of the day. Sorry about going off… I would blame it on not having service for two weeks and limited interaction with people and not having typed a thing during that time, but it’s really just my usual loquacious self 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Just go for it! Like I said, the people you know in real life know what you look like at your best and worst and most average, and they adore you 100% of the time!! They’re not caring if your skin looked ruddy that day, or your jeans were too loose or tight, they just care that it’s you. I’m having this fight with my mom right now, as I would love to see more pics with her in them, because she is, after all, (no matter how old I get) my mommy ❤ Your babies will love you for it xo

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Good to have you back. It’s late here at I’m exhausted but I will comment at length tomorrow. Great and profoundly insightful post, Mandy 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, thanks! I’ve been missing our chats 🙂 lol I wouldn’t say it’s profound or insightful, it’s just a realization I came to after going through months of pics and noticing that I no longer even bother trying to get any of my peers or colleagues… I don’t share them unless I know it is wanted that they be shared, and I generally just store them in an album and don’t even think about uploading them unless I am asked specifically if I can do so (my friends without social media, wouldn’t even dream of uploading their pics!), but it has been so ingrained in our psyches now that everything will turn up online that it has had a huge impact on something as simple as getting a few fun pics just for memory’s sake at a random get together. I know what my friends look like in real life. I’m just happy to have proof (even that only I can see, in my photo album at home) that they exist and that we had a fun time together!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Look, I consciously DON’T DO social media so although I understand your points I definitely cannot relate directly as I think this ‘age’ of self absorption we’re living in is our own doing and our undoing. Remember when we just took photos out of love or laughs or memories? Honestly it’s insanity! You realise you’re essentially censoring your own creative property because people are too vain to be seen not ‘perfect ‘. And perfect how? Through 100 filters and effects and makeup and shot after shot after shot so as it looks as natural as possible? You’re spot on though – you’re happy that your friends exist and you’ve got those memories. Photos used to enhance that feeling . Now they’re so contrived.
        It’s a strange one. But I’d do the same – people want to be so picky and fussy? Fine- not taking pics of you anymore!
        You made me put my thinking cap on today! Chat soon 😊


      2. “This ‘age’ of self absorption we’re living in is our own doing and our undoing” – I adored this! I always thought it (social media) would sort of go the way of email… it was such a big thing to get your first account and to use it as much as possible and to trade addresses, and then the excitement of it all wore out somewhat quickly, and we stopped obsessing over it with time, looking at it only on an as required basis. But it’s just gotten bigger and the impact of it is now too widespread and profound for me to consider it as just another passing craze. I abstained from facebook until well after it originally became popular, and then realized it was a great way to keep in touch (you know, back when long distance and landlines were a thing lol) with my long distance family and friends. So there I succumbed. Instagram I could’ve happily stayed away from, until last year when my baby sister got married and then asked me to sign up for it so that I could upload the photos I had taken under a certain hashtag for her friends to access it all easily. That was a big mistake lol. And that’s where I drew the line. Nobody needs to be THAT connected, and who has time for it all anyhow??? And how much of me do I really need to push in others faces??

        I have a very similar take as you on taking photos, though I have always been in love with pictures – of anything – and took some photography classes when I was younger, so I was hooked. I take photos of things I find beautiful, things I want to remember, random objects, people I love, memorable occasions, etc, etc, etc… It’s the closest to creating art I ever got. I now just snap away most of the time haphazardly, but every once in a while I will be on the ground, upside down, angled just this way trying to get the perfect shot haha. But I still miss all of the photos full of the love, laughs and memories to which you have referred. And while I think it’s fun sometimes to play with filters to create an effect or impact, I am not a fan of it just to make one’s own self look airbrushed. I know it’s not you, you know it’s not you, everyone knows it’s not you. And I know almost 0 paid models. So what’s the point? I love seeing people as they are in real life, and I want them to see me the same. But I’m not going to lie, I love makeup! Always have, always will. I sometimes go without it, but other days I’m wearing so much no filters or airbrushing are required 😉 (And I admit to posting some selfies, but I die a little inside every time I do it – the boyfriend likes it, so while I find it a tad cringeworthy and embarassing, it’s a small thing to do to take the odd shot and upload it every once in a while…. though like I said, you’re not gonna find any highly provocative, inappropriate, filtered pics of me out there!)
        My favourite pics of myself are as I was in the midst of, or crossing the finish line in various races I’ve ran – no makeup, airbrushing, filtering, just sweat and grease, bad shorts and wild hair and I love them! And my cousin was there for all of them, and she was in the same condition. Those to me are the best memories – the ones of my friends, hands on hips, faces filtered beyond recognition, sucking in, doing a miserable looking pout in the bar bathroom – not so much.

        But yeah, the paranoia or absolute excitement it seems to induce in people now when you go to pull out a camera (will it or will it not be filtered and featured prominently on my social media page, all tagged away?!) has made it so I just don’t want to deal with it anymore. Or I resort to getting half assed photos of people not paying attention and add them to the off line albums just so I can have something to look back on. But even there, I really just don’t want to bother anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think it depends on what you do with the pictures. You mention that you post them on social media and let’s face it, either you don’t want to be on it or you want to look good on it. If you took them to keep and share within your group in private, I’m sure it would be different.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hit the nail on the head – not even to post on social media, I just want pictures like we used to take before it existed, so that I can print them out like olden days and put them in albums the same as I did with my little 110 film and then eventually the 35 I upgraded to lol. My social media page is just mine, and I will upload people’s pics only if they ask or if I have asked permission, but I really just want photos to keep in my albums at home and to share irl with friends after an event like I did before we started sharing EVERYTHING online. Except I’ve found that now when a camera comes out people jump to automatically assuming that the only way a photo can be used or enjoyed is via social media, and it is difficult to get those candid shots, those un-posed fun shots, to get group shots because only the people wanting it to be seen online will partake in them… it’s really changed the way we see and take our photos.
      I may be outside the norm – when I get a good pic of myself, I like it same as anyone, BUT I also don’t care if I’m making a weird face or if I’m in bad lighting or not wearing make-up if I’m in a photograph that ends up online but happens to be a fun moment or an unforgettable experience, or even if it’s just taken by someone that I know loves me and they were just happy to have it. I’d rather have my eyes closed and my hair sticking out and be in that once in a lifetime group pic than not in it at all because I didn’t look put together enough.
      I’m definitely not disagreeing with you, just reiterating that with social media coming into the picture even the way we approach photo taking has changed. I guess I’m just running on the assumption though that, like myself, unless permission has been asked to use a photo and it’s completely appropriate in nature that people won’t be sticking it online somewhere. Which explains why I also only have pics of myself and my dog on here lol

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, for sure. Even now, flipping through a photo album is much more fulfilling than looking back through your feed online. A physical picture means something, a picture that you flick through is just one more image for the brain to deal with. It’s interesting how everything has evolved. I think we’re all victims of technology 😛

        I get what you’re saying, it’s cool to just take a picture and not care what anyone thinks but we can’t all be like that. Plus these days with more onus put on social media in terms of employment and everything, some people are careful about what goes up. I think it all balances out haha.

        Lol, I don’t post pictures of myself anywhere personally. Maybe the odd Snapchat, but that’s because I know no one will be saving them. I like to be mysterious 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I just flipped through my albums the other day actually! I had to laugh at a lot of what I found in there – definitely things that (innocent though they were) would not pass the facebook screening test (is it acceptable for parents/ employers/grandma/ nieces/nephew/ boyfriend to see, inoffensive, and do they present the subject in a good light). And wouldn’t it be so boring to 20 years from now pull out an album to flip through over drinks with a friend and find it full of nothing but filtered selfies??

        I’m happy that technology wasn’t quite where it is now when I was younger, as we didn’t have these types of things to worry about 10+ years ago.
        I do get what you’re saying about needing to filter better what is shared online especially in terms of employment, etc. I’ve only ever really thought about it from the perspective that you just wouldn’t want anything illegal, immoral, offensive or inappropriate attached to your name or image, but your image in and of itself (or lack thereof) could very well be your selling factor in that regard. Or am I starting to overthink it now? Haha. I do that a lot.

        That’s funny about Snapchat – I don’t and have never used it. The way it was explained to me (what the 20-40 year olds I knew were using it for) the whole premise sounded kind of shady, so I’ve steered clear of it lol. Facebook was what I was first introduced to, and I grudgingly joined Instagram, and that’s as far as I want to go in the social media world – and the funny thing is, to me I’ve always viewed them as being the ‘safe’ ones, because there seems to be more transparency to them. Thank you so much for your comment – I always enjoy comparing perspectives on matters and I especially love comparing conflicting opinions on things. I don’t consider myself old yet, though I am stubborn, but I hope I never get so old and stubborn that I am no longer receptive to views contrary to my own!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.
      I was afraid I was overthinking it, but just a couple of afternoons analysis of my own habits, I noticed that they had been very much altered by modern day technology. I can’t really complain. It’s just changing times, and the way things are now. I’m the one that needs to learn to get with the program lol

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have mixed feelings about taking photos of any moment of the day anyways. While I love photography I feel like I sometimes miss out on the actual ‘thing’ happening when I take to many photos. I realized that while I was whale watching in Iceland. Beauty was happening all around me while I tried to take the perf pic. I then stopped taking (too many) pictures to be able to live in the moment. I never go through the photos I don’t post on social media anyways.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Photos rarely do nature justice anyhow! Though it’s a funny thing that a well executed photograph from a skilled photographer can turn the most dismal sight into a work of beauty. But then we’re getting into art, which is leaps and bounds away from where this comment started 😉 I love that there are people out there who actually put things aside just to enjoy the moment and fully experience it – I would say cameras are probably the most benign offender out there, but they can be just as much a distraction as any smart phone/tablet/device.

      Whale watching in Iceland must have been such an amazing experience! I do hope you got at least one good snap to share 😉 How long ago was that? Everyone I know who has been has immediately come back already plotting out their return visit.

      Funny how different people are – I have a lot of photos on social media, but rarely go through any that aren’t current, but I go through my albums and saved photos on a quasi regular basis, even if it’s just looking to update a framed photo I’ve tired of, or looking for one for a gift or special occasion. I suspect I may be a little older than you however (ssh!), so it may just be a generational thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I try to keep a balance between ‘living in the moment’ and capturing (through photos/social media) good moments to remember them. Sometimes it’s great to be comepletely offline though. If I’m not having that much fun, I can very well take some pictures, post online or whatever to make time fly by.

    Iceland was really amazing and I can only recommend visiting to anyone! I had seeing northern lights on my bucket list and could tick that off while I was there ❤ And yes, I already had great pictures before I put my cam away. If you're interested, one is online:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds just so incredible! I attempted to find the photo through my phone but wasn’t able to, and now am at work so again am unable to look, but when I get home tonight (after being gone the last few days) I will be attempting again to locate the photo lol. Just wanted to pop in quick to let you (and a few others) know that I have been out of touch and not neglecting you all 🙂
      I also find myself often doing the same thing, forgetting all about my ‘camera’ (phone) when things truly are memorable and remarkable, and turning to it often when I’m bored or otherwise unoccupied. One big bonus to this new portable technology we (almost) all carry is it really is a good time killer.

      Liked by 1 person

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