It’s not shallow – taking pictures. Nor is it absurd to think you’d bend this way or that trying to get the frame just so. It’s the first thing you are taught in photography class: don’t mind getting your hands dirty, scuffing those knees, or generally being a mess: the end result is all that matters.
The thinking – telling a story through an image - has global implications: it’s how war reporters are able to transport people continents and years away to the scene of the crime. It’s a way to document the world, to hold it accountable, to NOT FORGET.
And perhaps if you look at it in a microcosm, it translates into that equal parts dreaded-and-beloved pastime: the selfie. Pouts and angles, light and darkness, stories and moments, meticulously found, snapped and saved. ‘On file’, as it were, for years later, when thumbing through old memory sticks or photographs, you can take yourself to a time that was. Remember the physicality you left behind and the pleasant thoughts you’ve carried forward.
There’re just a few problems here. While there’s no denying that hum of satisfaction when all those variables come together like a puzzle and create a fabulous photo, that you’ve experienced the moment through the lens detracts from the details you retain in your memories , say studies. On another note, chasing that perfect shot is like chasing a unicorn – you suspect a version of it lies somewhere but you may not be able to find it, at least in this lifetime.
Then there is of course the more realistic, and unfortunate, result that may come from a visual projection that you are trying to realise. Go too far and a selfie addiction may lead you down the path of daredevilry.
In the worst-case scenario, which is unfortunately becoming more common every day, this grapple for a good-looking picture is turning fatal. Reports point to 259 people dying on self-photographing missions between 2011 and 2017.
A little adrenaline rush or that feeling of validation; people admiring your work; can be addictive. It may become a need that drives you to lengths you wouldn’t have initially thought possible. Slowly, you work your way up to the really dangerous stuff, ledges and edges of things you shouldn’t even be near.
Should something go wrong, have you wondered, who would it really impact? You are blood and tissue and bone – but what about what comes after. The mother who mourns a lost part of herself, the father who challenges his sense of existence because you are gone, the sibling who will always feel that hole – of having someone there, present because they are absent.
No, it’s not shallow to want to savor a memory or to take pictures. Just don’t blend too much into the background.