In Defense of Taking Pictures All The Time Forever

We tend to have very strong ideas about what is rude. New behaviors are almost always considered rude until they continue lone enough (despite loud protests) that everyone forgets that they were mad about it.

For instance, coffee houses, which were slowly replacing tea time in England, were once the height of rudeness.

The very idea!

So it’s not very surprising that people hate, HATE, the recent trend of videotaping and photographing everything, even what you had for lunch. The idea is that you’re missing something, as if the act of recording is not, in itself, an experience. It’s an un-experience. It’s nothing.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t be mindful of when you should record and when you should not. I once saw a man videotaping fireworks. That seemed odd, given the current capabilities of video. It reminded me of a professor who once told me, “The most poetic moments so often make the worst poems.”

We should always be mindful of what we are doing, but that doesn’t mean that taking a picture is not being mindful.

Someone once told me that taking a picture distracts from enjoying the present. It interrupts the action and you are no longer doing that thing.

I disagree. I believe taking a picture is a type of meditation, a reflection on the power of the moment you are experiencing. I think it is noble, especially if the thing you’re doing is an everyday thing.

Indeed we think of other forms of record keeping as terribly artistic. Keeping a journal or painting or even quickly sketching celebrates a moment, a memory, and creates an object which can be meditated on later. I think taking  a quick cell photo reflect the same innate, wonderful human need.

There isn’t a lot of room in the modern world for self expression, and a lot of people feel left out of the world of artists and writers, but photography has become a form of self expression which is open to almost everyone.

The random picture of nothing important acknowledges the same thing that we, as writers, are always shouting very quietly in our writing. Look at this normal thing. Look at it. It is great.


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