The Advance-Titan

Photos continue to lose meaning

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When photography was young, pictures were taken sparingly and only of important events and happenings. These pictures of important events were, I think, pregnant with meaning, with thousands of words. After all, a photograph is worth a thousand words, right?

Well, maybe not.

A century later, photographs are almost solely digital. We take photographs simply to write something along the lines of “ikr lol it was lit.”

All this incessant photographing of everything blurs the lines of what is and is not photograph worthy.

It’s not only Snapchat that does this; a sizable portion of social media outlets are just as guilty of this degradation of imagery.

The issue is that by photographing things to merely have an accompaniment to a strand of boorishly written English, we degrade important images of moments with significant impact on our lives—images of newlyweds, parents on anniversaries, political atrocities and cultural events.

We degrade them because we are allowing them to be entangled in our self-created maelstrom of throwaway images, which fill the wastelands that are our newsfeeds and dashboards.

Obviously this isn’t always the case, but it’s frustrating to think about how photographs are such a powerful art form, a power tool of documentation, yet we consistently abuse them for insipid activities.

So I don’t believe that, “A photograph is worth a thousand words.” I think that some photographs cannot be so simply summed up by any number of words, and some, sadly, are only worth the five that scroll across on your Snapchat.

There are some situations, scenes and events that are better to leave unadulterated by taking a photograph. Sometimes, it is best to accept that no photograph can show how great a time you had with your friends. Frequently, the sunset cannot be done justice by your camera.

The issue with taking the photo of the sunset is that when you look back, you’re unable to remember how stunning it really was. When you photograph your friends, you take a little bit away from the moment that is happening right before you.

Words are complex. Images and photographs are too. If we used them with more thought, we may find they are more full of meaning than we ever imagined, and we might just use them with more purpose.

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Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Photos continue to lose meaning