While I was visiting Australia’s Red Centre a few weeks ago, there were stretches around the base of Uluru where you are asked not to take photos. This is because the land is sacred to the Aboriginal people and it’s sort of like scripture, and is meant to be viewed in its original location. It struck me that our culture (What does that even mean? Who is “our”? I don’t know!!) is obsessed with photographs. When I take a step back, the hordes of people all with their cameras up do look a little silly.
During the very long bus ride back to Alice Springs (the Australian desert is massive!), all I could think about were photos, and why we take them. Should we take them? Is it good or bad? Does it matter? I thought of a few reasons why we take photographs:
- Vanity, and as trophies to show off.
- To garner more likes and popularity on social media.
- To remember experiences.
- To fit into a culture which is inundated with photos; everyone has pictures, they’re in ads and in the media, shouldn’t you also have some?
- To make art.
- For fun.
I’m sure there are a bazillion other reasons, and if you can think of some, please post them in the comments. Then I thought of some reasons why photos might be considered as a bad thing:
- They can be obtrusive, for example if you’re in someone’s way.
- You are not getting the full experience by viewing through a camera screen.
- In food pictures, you may be holding up the restaurant and your food may get cold.
- It can be disrespectful if you’re taking a picture of something someone doesn’t want you to.
- On one of our tours in Australia one fellow was taking gratuitous pictures of the bus, and it nearly left without him.
I was talking to a friend of mine about it, and she said, “If someone wants to take pictures, I’m not going to hate them for it. And I don’t buy into the whole idea that if you don’t put your phone away you’re going to have an incomplete life experience.”
Overall, I’ve come to the conclusion that although some reasons for taking pictures may not be as “noble” as others, as long as you aren’t being obnoxious to someone else when you are taking photos, it’s okay. It’s not illegal for you to want to have some nice looking photos of yourself, or to show your peers or colleagues what an awesome vacation you had. Taking pictures is not really a good thing or a bad thing. It’s just a choice for a person to make.