So, whilst walking around the British Museum in Holborn yesterday I was thinking about photography…as normal. The Great Court, designed by Norman Foster’s architecture company provides a wealth of opportunities for photographers, with great lines and curves all over the place.
Anyway, as I walked round I noticed something. Everyone was taking photos. Everywhere. So many pictures were taken in the short time I was in the museum. I saw people taking photos of the building, the items on exhibition, the shop, the floor, everything. Around a third of all the photographers were using DSLRs, which I found strange. Of course, they could all be amazing photographers, taking amazing photos that put anything I could produce to shame, and there is no way of knowing. But all of them? Surely not. Do they need an SLR? Would a point and shoot do them just as much justice?
There were hundreds of people taking shots on their phones too. This got me thinking a bit more about what happens to all these photos. Where do they all go? When I got out taking photos, I’ll usually come home with a lot of images, however the actual difference between a lot of the shots is minimal. I’ll have several of a certain scene as the light changes, or slightly different compositions, and if I take 100 photos, only 6 or 7 will actually be truly different shots. So what happens to the hundreds of photos one person took of the thousands of items in the British Museum in the space of one hour yesterday?
Do they go home, flick through the photos on the screen on the back of their camera, copy them to their PC and forget about them forever? Do they print them large and show them to friends? Do they enter them in competitions? Do they go into a new Facebook album for the world to see? My guess is the first of the four cases.
In which case why do people take photos? If you’re never going to look at them, never going to use them or never going to show them to people then why have them? Because they’re free. About 100 photos of 100 items that mean nothing personal. Why bother? Most people weren’t even reading about where those items came from, or looking at them. Take a photo…move on.
Photos to remember times in your life, people you met, important events and so on have incredible value, but the above is something I don’t really get. This isn’t to belittle people who do such things, as they probably see something I don’t. Making catalogues of items in museums may be their passion, which is great. I’m just wondering how much thought, purpose and reasoning went into the 2349908234 photos taken yesterday in the British Museum, and if these poor, lonely photos will ever see daylight again.
Anyway, I can’t even remember why I started typing this, or what the point was, but it filled the time between the end of the Australian Open tennis final and going out to take photos.
Above is a shot from The Narrows in Zion National Park, Utah, largely because the British Museum was too busy for me to take any shots yesterday and I wanted to add an image to this article!