Strike a pose there’s nothing to it (anymore)

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When I was in my first year of high school, I remember the controversy surrounding the introduction of the camera phone. People were worried that a whole new generation of paparazzi would stand up to capture any and every awkward moment. Although the photos generated by our phone’s ancestors were so pixelated that we didn’t really have anything to worry about, those concerns were genuine. Back then we were on the brink of a digital revolution and little did we know then how much our phones were going to dominate our lives. So much in fact that we’ve become our very own paparazzi working around the clock.

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And that really isn’t an understatement. An infographic designed by Ivy Aquino shows that that 16 billion photos have been uploaded to Instagram since it was launched and 58 photos are uploaded per second. We’re so used to capturing every moment our phones have become glued-on extensions of our hands. Ironically, we now don’t look twice when someone is taking a photo with their iPhone, but we all of a sudden become self-conscious when a real camera appears. Australian photographer Max Dupain has for instance found that he has often been scowled at for shooting on the beach with his professional gear. It seems that people just can’t imagine that there is anything else to photograph than their faces. Like sunsets, for instance.

“Ironically, photographers are under siege at a time when voyeurism has been turned into an entertainment form, and when voluntary self-surveillance has become a leisure pastime.”
(Palmer, 2012)

Getting up close and personal

The camera phone has a long history to the point where it has surpassed any other kind of camera in sales.  The reason? Researchers suggest that images made from smartphones are more intimate and mundane that other forms of photography, predominately because it adds an element of spontaneity. But I wonder how spontaneous snapshots by camera phones really are nowadays. I’ve never tried it myself so I have no idea how long it takes or how tedious it is to form the perfect duck face, but it seems like we are fully prepared to take a photo and will only upload it to social media channels when it is perfect.

But with pretty much everything nowadays, we have Apple to thank for the boom of self-portraits, more commonly known among 13 to 16-year-olds as selfies. This revolution or upheaval was sparked when the iPhone 4 was launched with a front-facing camera. And now that phones hold even better cameras, they are acting more like a ‘life recorder’ than ever before. And when selfies go wrong, the Internet is always ready to pick it up and throw it into a viral whirlwind.

The weight of Instagram

One of the most popular photo apps to date has got to be Instagram. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who only used Instagram as a photo editor when it was just introduced. But now it has become a social selfieland where it is commonplace to share snapshots of carrots creatively lined up on a plate with a Mayfair filter. It sure is fun to be able to share every experience with your besties, but some people take sharing every minute a bit too literally. Luckily there’s always one to mock the flock. My favourite: Satiregram, an Instagram account that posts generic Instagram photos that are surprisingly accurate.

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Confessions of a not-so-selfieholic

I myself have to admit that I am guilty of snapping away with my iPhone at any given time. But I do like to believe that I only do so when there’s something interesting to capture. Like two weeks ago, when I celebrated being together with my boyfriend for a year. We went to 360 Bar & Dining in Sydney Tower and the food was so gorgeous that I was succumb to food-snapping-fever. Apparently this can ruin your appetite, but I guess the amazing views ensured that didn’t happen. But I don’t really think that is such a big deal, as I would do the same if I had my digital camera on me (which I haven’t used for over a year). As long as I don’t catch myself making a duck face I think I’m safe.

And some researchers believe selfers may just have a bright future ahead of them, as their tech-savviness will help them create a solid foundation for a successful career. Some phone snapshots are also quite impressive, so the camera phone revolution really isn’t all that bad. As long as we make sure to also enjoy life without constantly looking through a lens and turn to the rear-facing camera on our phones every now and again, I think we might just be alright.

 Related articles

Sources:

Palmer, D (2012), ‘iPhone Photography: mediating visions of social space’ in L. Hjorth, J.Burgess and I. Richardson (eds) Studying Mobile Media: Cultural technologies, mobile communication and the iPhone, New York and London: Routledge pp 85-97 (R)

Salikhova, E. (201). Learning from social media savvy youth. NZ Business, 25(1), 6–6.

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