You’re Pointing Your Camera The Wrong Way

Tourists taking selfies on the Ponte della Paglia bridge, with the Bridge of Sighs in the background. Venice, Italy

This New York Times article has been shared on a number of forums already, but I thought I would add it here for anyone who might have missed it. Further discussion of the pros and cons of our “selfie society” is pointless and tiresome, but as photographers the history, as well as the ideas, in this story have special meaning. If we take the time and spend the money to go to a special place, let’s be sure to look at and take pictures of that place, and not just take pictures of ourselves!

“I keep thinking of what it might be like if we all took the time to photograph such commonplace miracles. What it would be like if all the people with cameras in their pockets transformed themselves into documentary photographers β€” like Dorothea Lange, like Baldwin Lee β€” to make a collective record of a truth about the world that most people haven’t yet troubled themselves to see?”

NYT: You’re Pointing Your Camera The Wrong Way



10 thoughts on “You’re Pointing Your Camera The Wrong Way”

    1. A lot of places we go they are banned, but it doesn’t often get enforced. Tripods not allowed, but selfie sticks? Fire away! πŸ˜‰

  1. Oh, I could go on about this for days but have come to realize the Genie is out of the bottle and has no intention of returning.
    I, on the other hand, often get criticized (names withheld) for coming home with photos that have no people in them at all! Horrors!

  2. Yeah, me too, which is why I didn’t pursue the topic further. I will occasionally hand my phone (but seldom my camera) to someone to take a picture of the two of us, but do very few selfies. I sometimes joke that my tripod is a really expensive selfie stick when I use it for that purpose!

    I have found that taking pictures of people taking pictures is about all I do, which is short of like the proverbial “shooting fish in a barrel.” I don’t get asked the question any more, but when people would inevitably ask me if I did weddings I would tell them that if they looked at my pictures they would not see very many people.

    After we saw you in Maine last year, Kathy & I realized that we didn’t get any pictures of the four of us. Next time, and there will be a next time! we will be sure to rectify that situation. We just have to decide who is going to take it! πŸ˜‰

  3. Yes! I’ve seen this too many times, and, like you, I am not usually featured in any of my photos, even when traveling with someone. I’d rather take photos of what’s out there, rather and of myself. I know that I was there, and that’s all that matters. As of the last few years, I feel even less inclined to be a documentary photographer, instead focused more on enjoying the place. I’m still a sucker for the golden hours, though πŸ˜€

  4. I suppose there is no fighting it, its become part of our culture today, though one I don’t take part in that often. It is interesting though to contemplate how many of those selfies will survive say in another 100 years after the people and devices are long gone.

    1. You’re right, there’s no denying it, and little point in actually talking about it. But we can’t help it! Just the other day I watched a woman take endless selfies with a selfie stick and couldn’t help but wonder why, and what was she planning to do with them. I’d be willing to bet that only a tiny portion of all those photos and videos will ever be looked at a second time.

Comments are closed.