I love looking at photos. The image frozen on supports which can either be paper or a digital screen locks memories that are relived upon simply gazing at it. Until very recently, the cost of printing and time were major setbacks of going wild on snapping pictures and having them physically produced. Today taking and checking pictures are not only easier but simply instantaneous -- thanks to digital cameras and phones!
The only reservation I have of digital photography is its transient nature. If not printed on a concrete support or properly stored, your pictures are simply forgotten and lost. Of course you might argue that via Instagram, Tumblr, clouds, etc. these pictures can be stored for an indefinite period of time or perhaps, forever (?). In my opinion, these sites could never replace the simple picture on the wall, on your desk in a frame or in a photo album.
Photographs are beyond "memory-keepers" for me. I believe that they are powerful tools. It can reveal secrets, share a story, forge an opinion, bind people and, to some extent, change the world all through simple perception. Without even showing you these following photos, you are able to recreate most of them in your mind and associate them with grasping moments in human history: the shot of the earth rising taken from Apollo 11, the picture taken on Tiananmen Square of a man halting a row of military tanks, the picture of the migrant mother taken during the Great Depression in America, the young men attacked by a police dog during the Birmingham Campaign which was led by Martin Luther King.
And of course there are some other iconic photos: Marilyn Monroe in her coquette white dress standing above a subway grating, Grace Kelly and the once known Hermès' "Sac à dépêches" elegantly used to hide her baby bump, or the famous kiss shared between the sailor and the nurse in Times square.
These are shots are imprinted in our minds and those of the future generation for the ages to come.
However, in today's world with smartphones, we are buried within a plethora of images. Anything and everything becomes an object of photography. From abundant selfies and shelfies, we are all at one point guilty of taking such snaps. One might say these types of photos are a desperate call for attention or approbation seeking shots polled by the number of likes they hit. On the other hand, one can argue it's purely and simply artistic. Such debate can go on for awhile... Are selfies purely narcissistic, or is it a healthy expression of art? Are these interesting or simply dull? As you can see, it can definitely lead to various interesting discussion, which I will save for another occasion!
In my own opinion, photography transcends daily mirrored photos of yourself and personal "duckfaces." (For the record, I am guilty of posting shelfies or the seldom selfie for the fun of it, but I think I have not abused of that privilege since my social media pictures accounts are what some would call "dry" and boring. I try to take photos for the memories and have them stored somewhere in case my brain decides to malfunction.)
Call me a snob, but I'd rather be looking at photos from the National Geographics, Vogue, Magnum Photographers (which Henri Cartier-Bresson was a member of) or in a local gallery. I also like looking at headshots -- Harcourt Studio shoots divine ones! I hope that we will still all be able to contemplate, admire and get lost in photos like these ones for years to come!
I have been lucky to be surrounded by very talented photographers in my life (which include my own father and my brother -- but I will refrain from doing a self-family promotion here for my sake and yours). What I know is that anybody armed with a little curiosity of life, enthused by the world surrounding herself/himself and whichever camera in hands can create masterpiece; all a person has to do is look around and observe. Afterall, the only equipments you need are your eyes and heart!
To give an example, here are some shots taken by a talented local "perpetual-snapper" from my home city Geneva, Jeremy Spierer. He started to take his first pictures with a camera phone and then, it escalated to these:
All images courtesy of Jeremy Spierer
To finish, I would like to share a part of this quote from Robert Frank: There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.
So yes, I urge you to snap away!!! Because whatever you decide to immortalize on a picture must be important to you, Human! A second flickered away is a consumed moment; live it, enjoy it and freeze it if you can. Should you decide to share pictures, all I can say is thank you for your generosity and please remember to keep it safe! You wouldn't want photos of yourself or your entourage ending in dodgy sites.
Ps: If you have the opportunity to visit Geneva, Switzerland between the 7-21 October 2014, Jeremy is having his photos exposed at the Galerie la Cave!