Since it’s just a few days before New Years, I thought I’d share my absolute, number one pet peeve from this year (and every year’s) big family party: the family picture digital camera paparazzi.
No, my family isn’t so famous that actual Paparazzi stake out my grandmother’s house and hound the streets and yard for photos. In my family, we are our own paparazzi.
You see, every year, we have a huge family party, and there is a distinct moment in the party where everyone gathers to take photos. This family. That family. The cousins. The aunts & uncles. The kids. The grandkids. Etc. It’s a complex form of set theory.
In any case, instead of there being just one camera (a good one) with a photographer, everyone has to have the shot taken “with their camera”. Sometimes, you get 10 cameras taking the picture at once, with everyone in the shot looking in a different direction, like some sort of carnival funhouse picture. Other times, one person has several cameras dangling, saying, “OK, now with this one!”
Ridiculous. At first, it was just annoying. Then it became upseting. Now, I just get pissed off.
You see, digital cameras should have solved this problem. But they didn’t.
One camera. Many shots. Files can be shared for free. Everyone can get their pictures. There is absolutely no reason for multiple cameras to be used (especially when you have iPhone cameras without auto-focus competing with full digital SLRs).
Yet there they are, every year. In fact, every year, it seems to get worse.
One theory is that most people don’t know how to download or get digital photos developed. So they use their camera because they know how to get those pictures. Problem is, in my family, I know for a fact that many of the people with cameras have never, ever successfully downloaded or developed their own pictures either. But maybe it’s a safety net… they know that someday, they’ll figure it out. And then they’ll have those pictures on their camera.
Historically, the only way to really get a picture was to have the negative. You couldn’t count on someone else getting the role developed and sending you the shots you were in. So that could explain why baby boomers express this behavior – it’s an anachronism.
But what explains my Gen Y cousins and siblings doing the same thing? (Besides the obvious upside of irritating me, of course.) My guess is that the current social assumption is that everyone has a camera, all the shots are terrible, but all are uploaded and shared. In this worldview, not having “your photos” to share almost means you don’t have an opinion, a voice, something to contribute. So, once again, everyone has their camera, even in situations like group still photos, where one camera is a much, much better solution.
I’m probably more irritated than most because, in general, as long as Eric isn’t around, I typically am the one that everyone depends on for “high quality” pictures from these events. And it’s sad to find out later that, because everyone was looking a different direction, there is no good picture of one of the families this year.
When I am not irritated, however, I do think about how, despite all these integrated photo editing and uploading services, we’ve still failed as an industry to really solve the photo sharing problem for families. They are all too techie, all too hard to really use. And that’s a piece of why, to this day, everyone insists on getting “one more with my camera!”
I’m thinking of banning any other cameras in 2009. Too heavy handed? How do other people solve this problem?