I Went to Disney World. No Photographers. No Cameras In Sight.

That thing at the top of this post, when printed on paper, used to be a cherished snapshot. A photographic memory. Not anymore. Now, it no longer exists.

What’s the first thing you think to pack when you go on a vacation to somewhere special? A camera of course. (Or if you’re me, several!)

Sure, there are cameras in our phones but if you’re traveling and have a hobby doing photography, certainly you take a camera body and a lens or two, right?

Apparently not. I was just at the Beach Hotel Resort in Disney World in Orlando, Florida–I flew in to photograph a big cable industry convention–and while walking through the resort, I saw no cameras. No photographs being taken. Some selfies with phones. Certainly some phone shots. Most people actually seemed to be busy studying their phones the whole time I was there. Not making photographs.

Look around. No cameras in sight.

Okay, I lie. I stayed there for four days and actually did see two cameras. Just two. One teenage boy had a film camera, a Canon AE-1 Program, which I commented that he was photographing with one of the best and encouraged him to print his photographs. And a young guy walked past with a Fuji X100V, which I complimented him on and stopped for a minute to chat. But that’s all in four days.

Photography is over. No one in 50 years, in 2072, will be looking at these folks’ trip to Disney made on their phone for a glance and a swipe. Guaranteed. What I saw wasn’t photography.

Instead there was this.

At the conference there were some Disney characters posing for photos. One after the other, a parent hands over their phone to a Disney employee who using the expert one-handed shutter technique, pushes the button and that’s that. Decisive moment? Ha, what are you talking about? What about the light? What light, who’s noticing that? (Hint: They’re not photographers, they’re Disney employees.)

Yeah, that’s perfect. Make that photo–that’s a real keeper for the ages. Except one person is completely dark while the other is blown out.

“Sorry about that. We don’t know anything about how these things work.”

It was so obvious to me, so noticeable how photography had ceased to exist among tourists. There was none happening in this amazing, uber-expensive vacation land. A place where people used to bring their best camera, good color film, all the best gear–it was their hobby and they were amateur photographers, looking forward to prints when they returned home to relive their adventures.

Now, virtually no one had even thought to bring a camera.

Family after family, no cameras over Mom or Dad’s shoulder. Just the phone. It’s all just the phone all the time.

Like this child who can’t even walk into the ice cream cafe without “checking in”. Or the woman walking at right. Or the woman seated near the back–all connected, all plugged in.
Out at Daytona Beach, nope, no cameras out there either, despite there being photographic opportunities.
Remember that time we turned Dad into a sandy merman? Well we did, you’ll have to take our word for it, because there are no photos.
No one but me photographed these youngsters’ digging adventures. A colorful beach and not a camera in sight.

A Denver photography center today asked for my opinion on what could make their center better. I answered, “Be revolutionary, encourage photographic prints, photographs made large and displayed. Real photographs. Encourage photographers to avoid social media, which has been a blight on society and perhaps the worst thing to happen to as a result of the internet in the last 20 years.”

Photography is going through some serious evolutionary changes. But what we have now isn’t photography. It’s not art. It’s not lasting. It’s just asking for a like and a look, and you can bet on the like.

The look, not so much.

Seriously, nobody cares.

13 thoughts on “I Went to Disney World. No Photographers. No Cameras In Sight.

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  1. As you know, I am of a similar mind when it comes to photography. You’ve hit the nail on the head and with some excellent photos to demonstrate the dearth of real cameras. And, as you’ve so perfectly pointed out, even when people do take photos with their phone — they NEVER print them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not photography to me anymore. It’s something else. It’s image sharing, it’s glances and swipes. I’m not interested in those. I make photographs, print them, and give them to friends and people I meet. I make something tangible–you know, photography.

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  2. I have a friend who was given a pretty high-end Nikon digital camera, she hated it … she prefers her iPhone … she has no idea why I like to use actual film!!! We can still be friends, but I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to use film!!!

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  3. Ken, It’s not that ‘no one’ cares, but far too few care. You care, and that’s important. Keep fighting the fight! Keep teaching, showing, leading by example!
    I think you might love one of my life’s favorite quotes from Ed Abbey…

    “One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast….a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I mean all those people not bringing cameras don’t OWN cameras. When the medium of photography has been so far democratized that absolutely everyone has one on them at all times that’s all they want, and the bar has been set so low. But none of this is new information is it? The DSLR market has been killed off and I dunno about mirrorless but it seems like all the R&D went into making smartphone cameras better and has for years. The interesting thing will be in 50 years if none of these digital images exist anymore, will people be able to find your words and get a contemporary perspective on why these photos don’t exist.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kenneth,

    I’m currently enjoying a few days in Edinburgh – with 2 cameras – and based on my very unscientific survey during 5 or so hours of walking around yesterday there are ‘plenty’ of folks visiting here with cameras.

    I didn’t see many film cameras, mainly mid range digitals, but at least people are making an effort.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I wonder if it’s a function of the type of destination … Maybe Disney World is a “doing things” (rides & lines) type of place while Edinburgh is a “seeing things” (historic buildings) destination.

        Perhaps the ‘logic’ is “there’s not much to photograph at Disney World” (I’d say the exact opposite, it’s all about capturing family memories) while for Edinburgh “I want to show the folks at home where I’ve been”.

        Regardless of the reason – and I’m sure there’s not just one – while walking this morning I saw a kid in his 20s carrying what must have been an early 60s camera, based on the case it was in. Sadly didn’t have the chance to stop him and ask what it was, but it made me smile.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know a local flea market where there are dozens of point and shoot digital cameras they can’t give away. And I don’t see anyone here, unless they’re a street photographer or some other photo enthusiast, using a real camera. Maybe Edinburgh is that much more of a draw for travel photographs, or maybe there are more serious photographers there. I know film photography is very popular in London and Toyko, and good luck getting any kind of a turnout to any photography event in Denver.

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      3. The opposite here in London – I was a stand at a flea / hipster market selling all sorts of film cameras, including Olympus Trip 35s for £200! Twice what I’d pay for a rebuilt one in Australia

        Liked by 1 person

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