Cameras are like arseholes…
…everybody’s got one.
I never really noticed until this weekend. When I first started properly dabbling in photography I was quite self conscious of my camera. I was even worse when I first started using a tripod regularly. What? Stand in the centre of town with a big camera and a tripod? I think not…
I eased over time and now I really couldn’t give monkeys what anyone thinks when I wander past with a fully extended tripod and big camera but nobody ever really notices anyway, that’s because everyone in the civilised world now carries a camera of some sort. Just a few short years ago it wasn’t that common, now people will look at you and point in the street if you don’t have a camera in the city centre.
Standing on Calton Hill for the sunset on Saturday night there must have been at least a dozen people with tripods and SLR’s and at least twice that again wandering around with compact cameras or smart phones with decent cameras. Not that unusual for Calton Hill I’ll admit that but it’s a remarkable amount of images all being captured in the half hour just before the sun goes down.
Where I really noticed it was Sunday night at Newhaven Harbour. Now, Newhaven isn’t exactly tourist territory, it’s far more likely to be locals down there and again there were dozens of cameras on display of all shapes and sizes. People pulled up in cars and jumped out to get a shot of the sunset. Even up to a couple of years ago down here on a cold night you could almost be the only photographer about, now it always seems to have swarms of them!
I spotted it at the Forth Bridges too recently. With the bridge lights back on I stopped in South Queensferry only to find at least 4 other photographers out with the same idea on a really cold night.
Of course the easy availability of cameras these days if one reason behind it. Even an entry level SLR could cost you less than £300 and you could pick up a compact with your weekly shopping for under £40 easily. It’s not the whole story though, cheap cameras have always been around and it’s not just the convenience of digital either. Digital’s been about for a long time now and so have cheap digital cameras so what’s the difference?
In my humble opinion, it’s the rise of social media as part of our everyday lives. We’re exposed to photographs everywhere these days, email, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Blipfoto etc etc etc whether it’s people just sharing images of their latest drunken night out or first attempts at photographing a sunset, the world finally has an outlet for it’s photographs beyond the paper envelope with your always disappoint prints that only your friends or family ever seen. The prints that ended up in a shoebox under the bed for years on end now have a place to live and been seen without being hidden away.
From my own point of view it’s the main reason I enjoy what I do with a camera. If I were to take pictures and only ever looked at them myself yes I’d still get some enjoyment from it but it’s the easy ability to share that really makes it for me. I don’t care if an image is viewed by 20 people or 20,000. I don’t care if it’s had stacks of comments or none at all. The fact that it’s seen is enough for me. It gives a purpose to an expensive and time consuming hobby if that image is enjoyed by just one other person then the effort is worth it.