It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but is that still true?
All photography used to involve developing film, and a photograph was a physical keepsake from days past.
Now, most photos are taken on cell phones, and most of them are then shared to social media instead of printed into physical form.
Many adults mix their photos, some printed, some shared to sites like Facebook. Youth, however, are much more scattered in their photography tastes.
Photography, both digital and physical, has become very popular among teenagers and young adults. Personally, physical photographs have always had meaning to me. My parents made a photo album of me when I was a baby (spoiler alert: I was very cute), and even when I was as young as seven and eight, they would buy me disposable cameras. I have a little pink Disney Princess-themed book of photos from when I was still in primary in elementary school.
Things changed when I got a digital camera. I dragged it around everywhere. I took it with me to Hawaii and I can still remember nearly dropping it into Pearl Harbour.
I was too young to have social media, but my photos started to go onto my family computer instead of into a photo album.
My relationship with photography was beginning to change. I got Twitter, and then the photos from my camera were going there. I got a cell phone. I got Instagram. I took thousands of photographs. But where were they?
It wasn’t until my family took a road trip to Yellowstone National Park that I realized I wanted to have physical photos. As much as I loved Instagram and the way it allowed me to share my pictures with people, I wanted something more personal. I wanted to be able to look back at memories of my family road trip the way I could look back at pictures from my eighth birthday party at the bowling alley, captured in that little pink book.
I started printing photos. I asked my parents for a Polaroid camera for Christmas. I still posted all of my photos to my social media, but now I could look at them whenever I wanted, independent of Wi-Fi or data.
I took my Polaroid camera camping out in the woods, where my phone wouldn’t be able to charge. I took my photo albums with me to university so I could sit with my new friends and show them pieces of my life.
Many people my age are feeling this strange mixture of digital and physical photography. When you spend most of your time with a camera in your hand (in the form of a cell phone), it becomes relatively easy to capture memories instantly.
But not all of these photographs end up on Instagram or VSCO. Some of them are family photos. Some of them are goofy photos that don’t fit with the ‘insta-aesthetic.’
For whatever reason, there are some photos that just need to be printed, and others that deserve the Internet fame.
I adore my photographs. The walls in my dorm room are covered in prints of famous paintings, there are also prints of photographs by Gilles Caron, and there are prints of some of my own photographs.
Photos, whether digital, physical, or both, play an important role in my life. They tell the unfolding story of my life, and, like they do for many people my age, serve as an important and irreplaceable method of self-expression.
Every photograph I decide to take tells a story. Whether it’s the perfect Instagram selfie, or a picture of seagull footprints in the snow, every photograph says something. There is a photograph for everyone.
Marlowe Evans is a student at the University of New Brunswick
from Maple Ridge who writes
about youth issues.