I was talking to a woman at a yard sale last weekend and she said the reason she had so many photo frames for sale for 25-50 cents each, is because none of her children or grandchildren want the family photographs—she’s moving to a smaller house and thought they’d want to have them. Wrong! She ended up keeping the photos, thankfully.
But the kids weren’t interested in the least. She said, “They go to museums and art galleries so they know there’s value in physical art, but they can’t be bothered with photographs of their family. It’s shameful how people treat family photographs nowadays.”
It is shameful. And sad to say people won’t miss what they don’t know they missed out on. They could have had a portrait of their dear grandmother, but they won’t even know about that loss. Ignorance will force them to go flipping through their phone looking for a photo they can’t find only to give up and say, “I know it’s in there somewhere.”
No, you don’t. You don’t know anything. Your family is disappearing and you don’t even realize it. I see it, in all these empty frames for sale at yard sales everywhere I go.
Back in the early days of photography, not everyone could afford a photograph of themselves or their family members. Often, people would die before they ever had a portrait made and the family would have them photographed post-mortem. It was either that or forever trying to hold onto their likeness in their memory but that was all. There was no photograph they could look at. No portrait to remind them of their smile, their character, the twinkle in their eye.
We are going back to that same situation today. A handful of poor-quality snapshots are being made today and none are being well stored, all of them end up being buried in the digital glut called the cloud, hard drives, or simply lost when phones and computers stop working.
No one will ever see them. They’re long gone. Like those faces in 1890. Unless they’re photographed post-mortem, they’re gone.
Forever. Only a memory.
I only had one Father’s Day portrait commissioned this year, from a daughter who said she wanted something special of her dad. The rest of my social audience of the ad promoting Fathers Day portraits dutifully hit the like button and did nothing. No interest.
One day I predict there will be real shame for those who threw out all the family photographs. To those who saw no value in quality family portraits.
The Walmart-ing of America–wanting everything cheap and quality doesn’t matter–it’s affected photography in a negative way. One that will bring shame to families in a short amount of time. Because the phone in their pocket is the reason they see no need for using a photographer.
At the end of the day, family is vital, it’s all we have. It’s our most important story. And instead of photographing and documenting our families as that which we value most, we’ll turn away from quality photography to save a buck. “Shoot it with your phone.” Good enough is good enough.
No, it’s not. It’s shameful.
We waste money on Amazon Prime fees we forgot we were paying for. For other online subscriptions that are on auto-renew that we don’t use. For all kinds of things that we willingly pay for because it’s technology. It’s TV. But a high-quality photograph of grandpop so we can keep him with us forever? “Nah, not interested.”
“Let me look in my phone again…it’s in here somewhere..nope, can’t find it.”
What a shame.