A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words?

Too many cell phones producing way too many pictures. Stop the madness.

The old saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words.” Unfortunately, in this age of mobile digital devices, a picture has been severely devalued -- maybe worth a couple of syllables.

I am a lover of technology and have helped market and promote some of the most popular tech products in the history of the world (slight exaggeration, but you get what I mean). Personal computers, notebooks tablets, cell phones/mobile devices and more have improved our lives in numerous ways.

But, there is a downside to everything and one of the worst related to our new mobile toys is the fact that every cell phone/mobile device is equipped with a camera. The result, everything that happens everywhere has become picture-worthy. Just one example: you cannot go to a sporting event, concert, Broadway show, etc. without someone nudging you, handing your their cell phone and asking you to take a picture of him/her with spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, kids, etc. Then, 20 minutes later, these awful, usually out of focus pictures end up on Facebook, Twitter and whatever other social media outlet the person frequents.

Then there are those who have to take pictures of everything, wherever they are. "Oh, look at the cute color of that house. I need a picture." "Oh, I really love that car. I need a picture." "Oh look, the Apple store. I must get a picture." “Wow, this road pavement is amazing. I really need to get a picture." You get my drift. And guess what? 20 minutes later, every one of these uninteresting pictures shows up somewhere on the internet.

We also have the wildlife section. Whenever anyone sees a deer, fox, or wild turkey, out comes the cell phone and up goes the picture on the internet. And of course, anything and everything that our pets do certainly deserves to be photographed and preserved forever on the Internet (Hmm, is photograph even a word anymore?)

I honestly cannot believe the things some people think make great picture subjects. They use their cell phones to take pictures of graffiti on walls, traffic on the highway, food, storm clouds, three hailstones on their back deck that fell in the afternoon thunder storm, and on and on and on. But, nothing beats the multitude of pictures of food: “Hey, look what I had for breakfast, lunch or dinner.” Or, “Wow. Doesn’t this food I am barbecuing look so good?” Just this weekend alone, on Twitter, I saw at least 10 pictures of food someone was either cooking or eating. I just don’t get it. Who cares?

Camera-equipped cell phones have been put to good use – during the recent riot in Vancouver after the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup, many of the culprits were identified after cell phone pictures were turned over to the police – but for the most part they have only resulted in pictures on the Internet about which no one cares. I miss the days when photography required great skill, but am resigned to the fact that everyone will continue to click at everything, clogging the web with more pictures that no one wants to see. 

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John Intorcio July 07, 2011 at 08:45 PM
It's film that's the problem, Mel. Film. Back when we had film, pictures had a cost to them so you only took pictures of things worth taking pictures of. Now with digital cameras, there’s no film cost to restrain you! It’s the same reason you drink too much at all-inclusive resorts – there’s no incremental cost to serve as disincentive! What if you had to stuff a quarter in your digital camera/phone every time you wanted to take a picture? Now THAT would lead to some quality photography!!
John Intorcio July 07, 2011 at 08:48 PM
And another thing… It really irks me when I go to some sort of concert or sporting event and I can’t quite see the action because everyone is holding up their flip cams and cell phones to record the event. I came to watch a live show! Put the camera in your pocket and enjoy the moment! They have actual photographers that record these things. You can copy THEIR pictures later!
Norcam Rob July 08, 2011 at 04:58 PM
You know, they probably said the same thing when the automobile was invented... "What's wrong with walking or taking a horse to town..." "All these cars everywhere, so dangerous..." (Like an angry horse isn't, right...) There is a plus side to camera phones and small format cameras and video recorders. It brings the world closer like when you want to show Grandma your new son and she's in Fresno and you're here. Click, shoot, send, done; simple as that. It's a instant archive of whatever, like when I went house hunting and wanted to show my wife a house I just toured. That's when it is good. I used to be anti-camera phone/portable recorder. Initially the quality was a huge drawback, but I really got into using them out of necessity. I own view cameras similar to what Ansel Adams used, and I have an array of video equipment at my disposal (you can too if you get involved in your local access television facility - WINK!) But, there comes a time when you don't have those items at your disposal or you just don't really want to lug that stuff up a mountain because you want to enjoy a hike for the sake of hiking, and that's when those devices are good. The family or fan that nudges you to take their picture will always be there and they always have been there, it's not like the camera phone suddenly generated these people. At least the cameras are smaller, be thankful for that...
Joe Veno July 11, 2011 at 01:58 AM
There is good and bad in everything. MANY of these phone video's have helped solve a lot of crimes and picture have also caught a lot of criminals. So I have to disagree with you on this one. They do much more good than bad. It is the new world we live in. Not my first choice either but, it is what it is....


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