The Instagram Generation

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The current generation of young people has many talents springing from their prolific social media exposure.  One of these fine talents is the ability to capture humor and to convey important information through a single photograph.  Let’s call this the “Instagram effect.”

I am often really impressed with the expression of this talent.  Sure, we’ve all been saturated with silly/touching/dramatic photos of dogs, cats, other pets, and an array of wild creatures.  Our Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter/e-mail accounts demonstrate people’s effective use of photos to covey complex messages in a single image. But beyond the frivolous, we really can absorb in an instant  the information or truths painted by the layout of of subject, lighting, color, line, focus.

Elise & Lionel

I learned to take photos over four decades ago using a camera and film.  Back then, one had to finish the entire role of film before seeing any of the images.  Next, one had to wait several days or longer to get the photos back from the camera shop or mail order developing service.  How exciting it was to get a whole roll of snapshots back!  Because of the expense and time, one had to be thoughtful about taking photos, not just snap away willy nilly.

The Instagram generation, on the other hand, has cameras in each of their mobile devices.  They shoot photos in every venue, capturing every gathering and occasion, large or small.  They are masters of the Selfie, never shy about cocking their heads, adopting a smile, and clicking the button over and over and over again to commemorate the pedestrian moment as well as the milestone.

I’m not as prolific a photographer or Internet poster as my children’s generation.  I focus on enjoying the moment at hand so I forget to whip out my phone or other electronic toy.  I’m also sensitive to how snapping pictures changes the dynamic of a gathering, so I’m reluctant to upset the balance.  If I do post a photo, I am deliberate about the composition and layout.

In 2014, I want to adopt a somewhat freer camera shutter and more generous upload impulse.  My hope is that, if I snap more, I’ll capture more of the humor and truth in my own life.  And if I upload those images to share with my friends, I’ll help shape (in a new way) the tone and conversation for the circles in which I travel.

So look for more photos this year–but don’t expect the Selfies.

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