Monday, October 3, 2011

Picture This!

The other evening I got together with a dear friend of mine.  While we were eating dinner, she pulled out a small album of photographs from her trip to Machu Picchu and surroundings areas.  As I flipped through the album she gave me background information and vignettes about aspects of  the trip which the photos captured.

Old School Photo Album

The last time I showed anyone my pictures from a trip in person, I did it on an iPad.  The person looking at them went through the pictures quickly and did not pause enough for me to give too much background or too many vignettes.  But then, vacation photos have always been something that either you love or hate/tolerate.

Remember sitting through slide shows of pictures of someone's vacation while they narrated each event?  Those slide shows are fodder for many comedians' routines. Anyone who has been through such a slide show will recall the dread of going to someone's house where the slide projector and a screen were set up in the living room. The last "slide show" I saw briefly was on a DVD of old family photos from my husband's family.  My children found it fascinating.  I found something else to do.

These days I typically look at people's pictures online.  I  will peruse online photos of something within a day or so of it happening if the poster gets the photos up right away.  In that way, we are on virtual holiday with the poster.  I also see a lot more photos than if I had to meet the people in person and look at a physical photo album.  And I get to choose what I want to see rather than having it foist upon me a la old school vacation slide show.

The downside, of course, is the lack of information and context about the pictures I see online.  Some people are good about explaining the pictures.  Others do a photo dump and leave you to guess what you are looking at.  And even with the written explanations, nuance and detail just tend to not be there in postings online.

On balance, I think I prefer looking at photos online.  I can take the amount of time I want to look without boring others if I linger or offending if I go fast.  I can zoom in if I want on aspects of the photo that intrigue.  But, as I realized the other day when looking at my friend's photo album, there is clearly something lost in the online experience--the real time human sharing of experiences rather than virtual sharing.  What you get with online sharing is mostly quantity and less quality of experience.  Some would mourn the loss of the quality of the in person photo sharing experience. Perhaps I do a little.

No comments: