missing life

I've been taking fewer and fewer photographs these past few years.

It's gotten to where this past summer—when I was supposed to be the one taking pictures on the set of the feature film I wrote and produced—I had to force myself to actually pick my camera up and push that button. This would amuse some of my former photography students (who never wanted to push that button), but I'm pretty sure it's not just laziness, diminishing returns, or whatever. It's a desire, as I've moved on through life and (occasionally) into something approximating wisdom, to stop living so much in fear of the "missed moment," or in the vague anxiety that life won't be meaningful unless it's validated by my peers.

I've always been less interested in photography-as-documentation than in photography-as-art. But now that everybody's* carrying a camera-equipped phone around with them and the Art-aspect of it has consequently been diminished, it's become impossible to ignore the loss of actual life experience. Now, life can't be lived without being mediated by a lens, a digital sensor, and the dream of exterior validation. If you can't instagram it, the feeling goes, it isn't real... you weren't really there.

And so you trade your life for the pipe dream of LIFE, enhanced.

Me, I want real life—in all its drab, glorious detail.

from @waynedahlberg, on the twits

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*May I just take this moment to express my annoyance at the way people talk about how "everybody" is doing this or that thing, when what they mean is that "everybody who is like me" is doing it? Articles abound talking about how in the future, everybody will be this-and-that, when all they really mean is, "in the future, the ever-shrinking wealthiest percentage will do this, and nobody else really matters." Well, I don't have a camera phone. Nor do a good many of the world's most interesting people. So... shut up.


  1. I love how the photo represents the photographer's plight. Completely missing the thing that has such a large crowd of people enthralled in order to grab the image to illustrate a point that needed to be made.

    1. Layers and layers of irony, yes. Perhaps the photographer bagged her camera after this, and went to an old bookstore to think about her life.

      I know this picture's supposed to be quasi-funny, but for me it hurts to look at - it's all tragedy.


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