Everyone knows someone who ALWAYS takes photos of their food. Maybe you even know someone who absolutely MUST take a group selfie when the squad meets. It could also be YOU, the guilty party who insists every single photo on your Instagram feed must match the rest of your “theme”.
So What’s Up?
Lately however, photography has gone a lot beyond simple pointing and shooting. Food should look as if it were just in front of you, every guy and girl’s skin has to look flawless and every place in a photo sometimes turns out looking even better than the actual place, a wonderland from some otherworldly region. People get obsessed with editing, cropping and tilt-shifting their photos into perfection. Some people term it “art”, and others wail “I want it to look nice what!”
It can be incredible what people have done in the name of art. Foods of places and makes I’ve never even heard of, floating shoes, and the most amazingly coloured outfits and landscapes decorate my social media daily. Don’t believe me? Go hashtag #sneakerfreaker, #makeportraits, and #foodstagram, you will be impressed by what you find.
This doesn’t stop at just editing our own photos though, a curious phenomenon of our time, photography somehow finds it’s way into many activities any 20-30 something might partake in. Going for that run? Photo. Cafe Hopping with the BFF? Photo. And lots of waffles and coffee. Getting turnt at Attica? Photo. Documentation of our everyday lives sometimes seems just right to complete the day, and it may be okay because we’re all humans, and we all love looking back on memories.
One must admit, we’ve all become shutterbugs in one way or another and it may not just be a generational eccentricity. From the time we receive our first phone, create our first social media account up until now it’s common for the average Singaporean to be bombarded with things to do. We’ve somehow managed to squeeze Studies, CCAs, Social Life, Family Time, Eating, Sleeping and even our own downtime into a span of 24 hours. A photo may be a mark of accomplishment, by very nature we desire to reach self actualization. We feel productive, that we have actually done something to better our lives through this simple means of documentation.
Do all these observations reveal a side of the people we have become? Or is it an idiosyncrasy of millennials where on a daily basis, we strive to present our lives in a way that transcend everyday aesthetic? In the end it all still drives back to the question; Why do you press the shutter? To look back, or for others to look on us? Once again, it’s only human nature to judge on first impressions, how someone’s Facebook profile looks or how full their snapchat stories are. Are you dissatisfied with how you appear to live your life? Do you follow the crowd, or prefer to relish that moment immortalised in your phone?
When we watch the crowd, they impress us. No, not that blogger you follow for beauty advice or that site with the latest travel destination and food deals. I’m talking about images, images that pervade our everyday lives. They’re on billboards, next to that YouTube video you’re watching, and in the latest issue of 8 Days. From Kylie Jenner or the iPhone 6S, these images are meant more to just show you what is popular, or being sold. They are intended to imprint a picturesque ideal of what things should look like, and what you can expect to be.
While the embellishment of one’s life is in itself a grey area with differing opinions surrounding a seemingly common practice, it is not entirely wrong. The motives behind such actions however, are definitely questionable. When we are driven to maybe impress someone, to feel good about ourselves, it borderlines unhealthy behaviour that may distract you from work or activities that may be otherwise more beneficial towards us in the long term.
That’s one side of the extreme. Actually, it may be the only extreme. No one comments about people who take the occasional picture of a pretty building or their dinner at Swensens. Garnering attention based on what we produce or a facade of what we may appear to do is more than just unhealthy, it may be dangerous. I had the opportunity of chatting with two 18-somethings recently; “And our friend, she is just so annoying sometimes! ‘Take again!’ She always tells her friends!” A trivial matter really, but what’s to say five, ten years down the road, the aesthetic of life’s essence becomes more important than life itself?
Myself, I’m an avid photographer, always snapping whatever is appealing to my eye, and the occasional wefie for the books, always making an effort to go on a photowalk alone or with friends. When I think about it, there really is something magical about how a replica of a moment past can conjure up so many feelings, and how our generation is able to appreciate that, is something we should be grateful for.