Big Brother is Watching...and So Are We
Cameras: they’re everywhere. This Orwellian realization can be a little unsettling if you think about it, but for all of the negative, there is some positive. For starters, the accessibility of cameras is unprecedented. Most people carry cameras around with them all day via their cell phones, mp3 players, tablets, etc. Anything at any given time can be (and is) documented on these convenient compact cameras. The impact cameras make on our everyday life is truly mind-boggling.
Primarily used for entertainment and advertising, cameras today are taking us to a place that transcends those moneymaking industries. The technology is constantly advancing. Cameras are smaller, cheaper, and often an unseen part of our lives, from the hotly contended traffic cameras that dot our streets, to the surveillance cameras installed outside of and throughout public businesses. ATMs, backup cameras on vehicles, police dash cams, satellite imaging: the list of cameras that can and do impact our day-to-day goings on is an ever growing one.
Imagine if this technology would’ve been more prevalent just 10 or 15 years ago. Some of you may have heard of the This American Life podcast series called Serial. In episode one of the series, the listener is introduced to a murder case in which a young man is sentenced to prison for strangling his ex-girlfriend, a crime in which he claims to be completely innocent. According to a witness, the murder took place in the parking lot of a Best Buy. Well, just check the security camera footage and there you have it, we quickly think to ourselves; however, in 1999, when the murder took place, there were no cameras mounted outside of the electronics super store.
With the technology of today, tragedies such as this horrible murder could be solved and justice rightly served. For example, after the horrific terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon in 2013, law enforcement agencies used photos from the witnesses to put together the pieces of what happened that dreadful day, which led to identifying the location of the bombs as well as the terrorists themselves.
Yes, cameras can aid us in the most dreadful events, but they can also capture some of the most remarkable images mankind has ever seen. Just this month, NASA released the largest panoramic hi-definition image of our neighboring galaxy, Andromeda. Without the current camera technology of today, that image would not be possible.
Despite the scientific awesomeness of a galactic image, a lot of the connotations about the widespread usage of cameras are negative. From traffic violations to a perceived lack of privacy, a lot of people see this advancement in technology as a violation of their everyday rights. The average big-city dweller is caught on camera approximately 75 times a day (Fox), and in Great Britain, four times more than that (The Independent). But despite this seemingly creepy intrusion into our personal lives, the photography nerds in all of us at TRG love the instant availability of all of this imagery.
As photographers ourselves, we are obviously obsessed with photography. We feel that the sheer abundance of the everyday Joe possessing this technology, trained or not, is opening a lot of people up to our world. Sure, these people may not be classically trained in the art and profession of photography, but a lot of times they figure out interesting techniques and approaches that intrigue those of us in the industry.
The amount of images that are uploaded to the Internet in any given day is immense. According to Mashable.com, “[m]ore than 500 million photos are shared every day.” Additionally, 30,000 photos are uploaded to Instagram every minute, and over 6 billion images are uploaded to Facebook every month (Buzzfeed). These numbers are utterly staggering, and they have allowed those of us infatuated with photography the ability to consume images on the Internet infinitely. Think about it: there are more photographs being uploaded to the Internet than we’re ever going to see!
In the past, if you loved cameras and photography, you would have had to check books out from the library or visit a gallery. Now we’re at a point where you can just go to your computer or use your smart phone. Photography is finally easily and readily accessible. Because of the astonishing amount of devices now available to the average person, more people are taking an interest in cameras and photography, meeting and communicating with others all over the world via social media and the Internet, and that’s why we love it. The sheer volume of easily accessible cameras has created an image-loving culture that we just can’t get enough of.
So, what are your thoughts on this camera-loving culture of ours? Has it gone too far, or do you think we’ve only just begun? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.