Most millennials are familiar with the pain of losing their photographs — usually they’re on an old, forgotten about desktop that broke down suddenly. Or perhaps they’ve been left in the back of a taxi, priceless memories occupying an island that is a mobile phone. And then there is social media. Social media platforms are born and die like stars. Like the old desktop, they break down or age into irrelevancy and are forgotten about – and are then bought out, resulting in more memory-fatalities.
The trope here, though, is forgetfulness and rapid change. The world is changing fast around us, and it can be difficult to keep up.
Photography only rose steadily throughout the nineties. There it was prominent among the professionals and the hobbyists. The effort it took to take and ‘develop’ a photograph provided a real sense of ownership over them. A connection a bit like a physical paper book has over, say, an e-book.
Now things are very different. The number of photographs humanity snaps in a given day is enough to boggle the mind. The overwhelming majority are taken on mobile phones – an almost essential item to navigate an Internet-dominated world.
Because of the ease and accessibility of the ubiquitous camera phone, it is no wonder the number of photographs taken is rising exponentially, year on year. Hell, even monkeys can snap their own selfies. With the figures of today, it is easy to see we could be living in photography’s ‘golden age’. But there are two things going on that could put all of this in jeopardy: we do not print our photographs, and we no longer feel the same strength of ownership.
A tiny, almost negligible number of all the photographs ever taken make it into the physical, developed copies that we used to cherish. And with our failure to take care of them, we leave our memories vulnerable to the rapidly changing modern world.
To prevent our memories from disappearing, we need to take back ‘ownership’ of our photographs. This involves creativity and, yes, a little effort. But in the end, all we have will be our memories.
This infographic by Beaver Frames details some of the shocking statistics; and how a photographic ‘dark ages’ can be prevented, with a step-by-step process to a ‘new Enlightenment’.
Eliza is a copywriter, photographer, and self-professed geek with an academic background in English and journalism. In her spare time she writes creative prose, indulges in a bit of nature walking; goes stargazing, and reads.