Protest Picture

Aug 20, 2012

Ours is an age of high resolution, Photoshop and 16 megapixel cameras with automatic settings and high ISO noise reduction. We can preview, delete, edit, sharpen edges and correct noise. We can airbrush every single picture of ourselves we post in social media. We can even shoot a major motion picture on an iPhone, and edit it on an iPad.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all this stuff. I’m a big techie geek and a voracious early adopter of most things digital. But, I’m beginning to wonder where the fun is in something that has become so easy. Even the free-spirited, shoot-from-the-hip lomography movement of a few years ago has transformed into a club with rules, and an excuse to overcharge for analog photography equipment. Anyway, with Instagram’s ubiquitous hipster retro filters, everybody is a lomographer.
I recently saw a T-shirt that said “Digital Cameras are Democratic.”
Far be it from me to be anti-democratic.
I guess I’m just suffering from high def overload. I don’t always want my camera to correct my mistakes. I don’t want to edit out all the blemishes of life. It’s bad enough that magazine covers have begun turning women into digital robot people. My actual world isn’t blemish-free and tack sharp. I’m also weary of artificial nostalgia approximated with Polaroid overlays and 10% added grain.
I guess I’m tired of pictures that are too controlled. Sometimes the best memories are the ones where we couldn’t control anything and made mistakes.
So here’s a big mistake. I don’t even know what the subject in this picture was, much less how it ended up in my camera. It showed up in my photo file like a lovely little artistic poltergeist reminding me that an image is never reality, and it certainly isn’t hyperreality. Sometimes it’s just the representation of a feeling.
My feeling about this? Kinda like I just got away with something. A little rebellious. And what’s a democracy without a few rebellions?

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