“She has the most radiant duck face in the world.”
– No one
Had I decided to take a photograph everyday in the year 1843, people would have called me crazy. The technological limitations and overall expense of the project would have made my goal near impossible.
In 1993, my mission to take pictures on a daily basis would have been somewhat novel. People would have accompanied me to the one-hour photo development center at Walgreens, eager to see what I had captured.
When I walk out the door in 2013, I’m surprised if I don’t see anyone else taking pictures. Between hipsters Instagramming their lattes, bros Tweeting images of their biceps, and club skanks sending Snapchats of their boobies; the planet has become over-saturated with photographs.
Of course, to quote Joseph Stalin, “quantity has a quality all its own.” Just because everyone with a smartphone and mirror is taking pictures, doesn’t mean that their producing anything worthwhile. Although professional photographer E. J. Bellocq (warning: old time nudity) didn’t produce nearly as many images of prostitutes as Internet celebrity Tim Sharky (warning: naked Asian girls), Bellocq’s art is infinitely classier and will continue to withstand the test of time.
I know a girl who makes her living taking pictures. She’s spent thousands of dollars on equipment and spends hours searching for that single fleeting moment to capture on film. The difference between a work she produces and the pictures I’ve seen on Instagram accounts is night and day.
Instagram and Snapchat aren’t intended to be artistic tools. I doubt that half the people who use them could even articulate what a Sabattier effect is or why the rule of thirds is important. I doubt that most of them would even care to learn these things.
Photography services that are intertwined with social media aren’t about art, they’re about status. Every image on Rich Kids Of Instagram looks horrible. The cars and planes are fine, but the photos themselves aren’t anything to write home about. “Wealthy Teenager Driving A Lamborghini No. 3” will never be something that hangs in any museum. Likewise “Duck Faced Selfie” and “Macchiato With Soy” aren’t winning any Pulitzer Prizes for Photography.
The people who abuse these services only care about the reaction. The 50 “likes.” The dozens of comments from peers and online weirdos (warning: highly sexualized swearing). Photography means nothing to these people, it’s only the method in which they can boost their egos.