Photo Taking Behaviour: Past

A few days ago, I came back from a trip to Evanston, Illinois. There I met lots of important and interesting people and took lots of photos. The weekend before that also traveling and was in Tempe for an event on digital culture and took lots of photos at the event and other places. On my return flight from Chicago, I was reflecting on my own photo taking behavior. The changes in my behavior are nothing short of astounding. Maybe I am the only one going though this change – but somehow I feel that I am not the only one, but that the society is going through a very interesting and very rapid transformation in photo taking behavior. I will describe my behavior over three decades – though the dates don’t exactly coincide with the calendar dates but are close enough for the message.

In 90s (that is 1990s), I was still living in the 20th century. I used to take my camera only to very important events and was quite careful in taking photos – subconsciously I believed in Kodak Moments because I knew that I will have to pay to Kodak for each photo twice once when I bought the role and then when I got it developed. Those were the days, when I was quite careful in deciding which moments are really important to capture and save because they had to be valuable to me in terms of inconvenience of taking my camera with me, money for film and its development, organizing those photos in a form that I could reflect those moments, and share those moments by sending photos.

In 2000s, I started using my digital camera – went through many generations of cameras from low Mega Pixels to 14 Mega Pixels with increasingly sophisticated features both in my pocket instant cameras to my SLR cameras. In 2010 it was common for me to carry on all important trips at least a Nikon P6000 and Nikon D80. The P6000 was always in my bag and was most of the time with me. In early part of the decade I was still quite conscious of the fact that each photo needed to be transferred to my computer and required lots of memories. In fact, I even deleted photos that were blurred or duplicate. I slowly started using multiple photo management software and started kind of dumping my photos because the storage was becoming cheap. Sharing was a serious issue in the early part of the decade. I even printed some photos and sent hard copies to people. In some cases I event sent photos by mid decade. Towards the end of the decade, I was regularly uploading photos on multiple computers and even some cloud-based services – even became premium user on multiple services. Even started using Eye-Fi card to automatically transfer photos using Wi-Fi services so I did not have to spend time on transferring photos. This resulted in a very interesting change. Earlier I regularly transferred ‘good’ photos on Flickr but now I automatically transferred them all to Flickr in addition to my hard disk. This also meant that all my photos on Flickr became private – did not want to spam people; and I did not have time to go to Flickr and change privacy settings for ‘good’ photos. So, in a funny but true sense as I started taking more photos, I started sharing fewer photos.

Some other interesting changes took place because of the arrival of Facebook. Since many of my friends started sharing photos and many people I wanted to share photos with were on Facebook, I started uploading important photos on Facebook. I was very motivated to carry both my P6000 and D80 in 2008 and part of 2009 to all places and important events that I visited – was very motivated to capture lots of moments visually and then share those with my friends and family.

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