A Lost Generation in Pictures

North-London based photographer Susannah Fields shares her thoughts on the new age of digital-only photography and asks if we're missing out...

Did you know that this year it’s predicted that over one trillion photos will be taken on mobile phones* and by 2017 nearly all photos will be taken by them. Not surprising really, given that most people carry a mobile with them these days, why would they take a compact camera as well? Even I, despite being a professional photographer, often shoot holiday snaps and day to day pictures with my mobile. The results are pretty awesome and are perfect for my needs at the time when I don’t want to lug a big DSLR around.

(Photo below shot on weekend trip to Devon on phone camera). 


Phone camera technology is fantastic and the fact that you’re connected to all your social media accounts via your smart phone means instant uploading and sharing of your special moments with no hassle. But 715 Instagram photos are uploaded every single second** and millions more photos are simply sitting on the storage devices on your phone, tablet, laptop or computer, never to be seen again.

Twelve years ago, when starting out as a photographer I shot my first weddings and corporate events on film. As I turned pro and my baby-steps into professional photography collided with the digital camera age, I quickly bought my first digital SLR and continued to shoot in ‘the modern way’. But despite digital capture, my clients were very much into paper output. No one was on Facebook (it had just been invented in 2004), Instagram and Twitter didn’t exist and even the internet, though by then in common use by the general public, was still an underused resource. Who had a blog in 2006?

So if you went on holiday and took photos, you were still probably taking them on film and getting them printed at Boots, Snappy Snaps or at a Kodak machine at your local pharmacy. If you’d commissioned professional photography for anything such as a wedding or family portraits, you’d be buying prints, frames and albums from the photographer, whether they were shot digitally or analogue.

I mainly shoot commercial photography now, but I still photograph the odd wedding and the last few have opted out of purchasing any albums, prints or canvases. Yes, there’s a chance they’ve taken my digital photos that I provided as part of a package and sorted out their own albums and prints, but there’s an even higher chance that those pictures are sat on a hard-drive waiting for a rainy day to be sorted out.

Funny really, it’s just one decade since the digital explosion and more people than ever are taking photos, yet no one appears to be printing them out any longer. I was going through old photos at my parent’s place the other day looking at pictures of my friends and me at school (I used to love Triple Print where you could get one large print and two smaller ones to give to friends every time you developed a roll of 35mm) and reminiscing. I still enjoy looking at the beautiful black and white photo of my grandparents dressed up all glam for a night out in the fifties and love flipping through childhood photo albums. (I’m in the pink in the pic below!) 

It would be so sad to think that if the current population carry on shooting and storing, but not printing, all of these photos there will be a whole generation and more of missing memories in years to come. Now that would be really very sad indeed.

*sourced from Infotrends 2014 Worldwide Image Capture Forecast
**source from http://www.internetlivestats.com/


Susannah lives in North London and takes a mean photo - see more of her work here www.susannahfields.co.uk

Agree? Disagree? Let us (and Susannah) know in the comments!

*sourced from Infotrends 2014 Worldwide Image Capture Forecast
**source from http://www.internetlivestats.com/

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  • Lisa Davis Posted 3 years ago

    So true - and how many millions more are lost on fried hard drives? Sad....