Are we drowning our lives in photographic noise?


General Culture

After photography had been invented, photography was used like painting. You would get your portrait taken, maybe once in your lifetime. Today, we would have one photo of any such person. Once photographic processes became easier to handle and less expensive, some people managed to appear in more than one photo. After the advent of the origins of mass photography, the number of photos taken of a person also increased.

But still, the numbers were fairly small - small enough that you would remember photos. For example, I have a photo of myself that shows me at around age 6 with my pet bid. And the total number of photos that I have of myself up to the age of, say, ten is maybe a couple dozen.

Now contrast this with what happens when people get a baby these days. I know some people who shoot a roll of film per day; and I also know people who set up webpages of their kids - portraits galleries - with literally hundreds and hundreds of photos. Most young children today will have their photo taken more often in their first year of life than I in my first 18.

If you extrapolate this development, at some stage in the future, for every person, there will be a photo taken every day, then every hour etc. Eventually, at least theoretically, there will be enough photos to create a movie…

But what do you really gain from all of this? For example, I know people who take rolls and rolls of film of their grandchildren, only to look at those photos once. What kind of memory do you create when suddenly everything is deemed memorable enough to take a photo of it? What will people remember if nothing stands out? What will people do when, after having asked their parents for childhood photos, they will be given boxes and boxes and boxes of photos (or a big harddrive filled with stuff - digital doesn’t really mean any difference)?

Are we drowning our lives in photographic white noise?