Look at Dad take pictures of little Joey go down the playground slide. Wait – hasn’t he taken about 100 shots of that little boy this morning? Oh yeah – digital – our lives are digital now. Content is overwhelming: words, images, sounds. That same proud Dad uploaded this week’s most precious 150 images to the Joey’s Cute website, so all his dedicated fans can view the little darling.
Those phone photographers are in play too. The phone is now a ubiquitous capture device making no one immune from the serendipitous photographer documenting our most inelegant moments. Unedited, they’re thrown up on Flickr.com for your viewing pleasure – often for everyone’s viewing pleasure.
Pleasure? I’m not so sure. Just like those jokes we used to forward through email as web-neophytes, they swiftly become annoying. We learned only to forward those that were extra-specially, extraordinarily hilarious. The best ones traveled the internet like a virus, but as with a healthy immune system, minor viruses are cured. Who’s going to cure the information overload virus? Who’s going to help me edit my life?
As a professional photographer, I eagerly validate the intimate relationship between quality and quantity in a healthy creative psyche. The more bad photos I take, the more apt I am to discover greatness. As my second grade teacher told me, mistakes are how we learn; True creativity is fearless. Are you afraid to be bad? Then you are destined for mediocrity, no matter how pleasant and salable it is. Albeit true, just because we can, does it mean we should increase digital bulk?
Editing is where the skill lies. Revered is the talent of knowing great when seen, and nurturing its growth to new heights. In the new digital creativity, old shackles are released only to be replaced by others. That haystack needle is buried in a mountain of digital bails. I used to push against the budgetary boundary of exposing greatness onto 40 rolls of film, but presently find myself pushing against the time limit of editing ten thousand digital frames down to the lean and mean 100.
Editing for greatness: in an odd twist, isn’t that one of life’s goals? Editing choices of careers, reading, films, friends, business acquaintances, life partners, food, and on, and on: choose the quality and toss the swill. Digital dating can amplify the old commitment dysfunction now that choice is categorized by body preference, lifestyle, and zodiac sign. An employer who uses on-line job services finds a 6 foot high pile of resumes after a few short days. It’s the spam of life: where do we find the filter?
More than ever, the closer one gets to “on the spot” editing, the more their skills are in demand. I’ve been married twice so I’ve demonstrated, in clear fashion, that I’m not always good at editing my personal life, but I have had some luck at the point of image capture as a photographer. Even so, I’ve often been confronted professionally with editing thousands of images further reminding me to hone my skills with “on the spot” editing. Seemingly no matter how sharp my skills become, quantity compensates. More, more, more – is the mantra of the digitally enlightened.
In theory, I’ll get so skilled that the quality – quantity intimacy will send my career into hyper-drive. I’ll find that digital equilibrium that budget seemed to control in the past. My chosen career makes me a work in progress, but what about Joey’s Dad? He seems to be an endless source of content no longer worthy of my short attention with no filter in sight. If I only had an easy edit button for the massive digital swill.
The Author, Bruce DeBoer, is a Commercial Photographer in North Carolina, USA. http://www.deboerworks.com or http://brucedeboer.typepad.com