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Photography has gone digital, but is that a good thing?

‘This virtual visual overload is causing us to ignore real and tangible sights, right in front of us’

Gulf News

Ever since digital technology transformed photography, the art form has become popular among both amateurs and professionals. During the era of the analogous camera, taking pictures, developing and finally printing the copies was an expensive affair, and so was possessing a decent camera. But today, even young children take pictures as an everyday activity, using mobile phones.

One of the most revolutionary highlights is that you can view the resulting image instantly, and click again if you are unhappy with the shot. Videos and filmmaking have become easier, faster and cheaper.

Although I am not a professional photographer, in the early stages of new photography technology, I had a few reservations about cameras going the digital way, primarily because of the lack of pixel quality that the latter posed. I remember having a conversation with a studio photographer on how good or bad digital cameras would be in the future. But technology soon proved that I was wrong to have those inhibitions.

Digital photography has opened a vista of opportunities. Not only can you click and print pictures instantly, you can share them right away using social media, and the pictures can be stored for posterity in your computers or other storage devices.

In recent years, cameras with advanced single lens reflex (SLR) features have become affordable, thus changing the landscape of photography, for hobbyists.

However, there a downside to this technology. The world is now witnessing an incessant tsunami of visual content being circulated through the internet.

I personally feel this relatively new trend has trivialised the importance of the written word, while conveying ideas or stories. The immensity of visuals is all-pervasive. They now occupy a good chunk of space in media. I think it is true that images can convey a story better than written words can, however, the lack of intellectual engagement, which usually comes with narration through textual content, now makes a story less contemplative. The visual content makes it a passive experience.

Paradoxically, this virtual visual overload is causing us to ignore real and tangible sights, right in front of us.

- The reader is based in Dubai