I got myself a new camera and today I happened to go to a traditional performing art recital. I realized that I spent more time playing with my camera than actually watching the performances. I was in good company: many people around me were doing the same thing. Reflecting on what I was doing I realized that my pleasure was self contained in the action of taking picture. As soon as a performer stroke a pose, I would take a picture of him or her, only to direct my gaze at the LCD screen after that, therefore not watching the rest of the performance. It felt a little bit like ‘stealing’, or ‘taking advantage’ of them. I’m sure this is a ethical issue professional photographers often encounter…
However, as occasional photographer I could not help thinking that the value of my photographs is essentially personal. Most of my pictures will stay in my hard drive and no one will ever see them. I won’t either sell them or show them. The value of my action ends with the action itself. As a spectator, I wasn’t a very good spectator. I was more interested in pictures than in performances, and it is now clear that my photographing was selfish.
I don’t want to moralise here, but reflect: attending a performance is one thing, taking pictures of it is an entirely different thing! Or maybe the reason why I don’t feel happy about this is because maybe 50 other people around me were doing the same. And I know how this looks like when you are on stage.
Digital cameras are everywhere nowadays (as I write I could take pictures with at least 3 objects within 50cm from where I sit). They should be handled with care. Care is the right word. We should think twice before taking useless pictures, they pollute the digital and also the analog ecosystems.