There are certain elements of technology that have saved my butt in tense situations. Example: We are at some sort of family gathering/vacation/dinner/graduation/party /wedding/ etc. when my wife turns to me and says, “You brought the camera, right?”
A “yes” answer would, at the very least, postpone a dirty look until the film was taken in to be developed, the pictures were picked up, and a quick review brought the remark “Is this all you got?”
These days, the whole subject is benign. I pull out my iPhone, tap off a few shots, we review them on the screen, and we move on. Poor exposures, cutoff heads and lack of focus instill not a speck of guilt over the cost of film. I have even come to trust the cloud as much as I used to trust the corner drug store.
Photography has changed a lot in my lifetime; like everyone else of their generation, my parents used a cumbersome Kodak to document my childhood. Today, the most used camera on the planet is an iPhone 4.
Pictures used to derive value from their rarity. The camera liberated us; we were no longer limited to seeing the world through the eyes of a painter. Photos appeared in carefully assembled albums, commemorating births, graduations, weddings and special vacations. Film was expensive, and we chose prudently.
But there is more to the evolution of photography than just the camera. Along with the size/portability/quality advances in camera technology has come the Internet and the ability to instantly share our masterpieces. There was a time when a camera was a valued family possession, and photos were precious keepsakes to be displayed in albums or on the mantle. Now, cameras are ubiquitous, and their output is social media eye candy.
These days, I may take a dozen pictures of a monkey at the zoo. Although I choose one, I don’t take the time to delete the other eleven. I have thousands of pictures, strays like these, castaway on various islands of digital media. I suspect I am not the only one. The calculus of cost, quantity and quality has changed dramatically. Maybe I have too many sunset pictures. Personally, I don’t see a problem there.
Now, even if you forget the iPhone and miss a photo-op, someone else probably shared a reasonable substitute on Flickr, Instagram or Facebook. And if you happen to miss a shot of a memorable scene, there is backup for that too. Just type the location into Google Street View, and let the little yellow dude save your butt.