The notion that people have a compulsion to photograph (288) is possibly even more valid today than when Sontag first said it. I would argue however that rather than the experience being parallel to that of taking the photo of the experience, taking the photo of the experience is the experience. With the ubiquity of image capturing technology—nearly every phone has a camera, or two, built in—the taking of images is surely more important than the viewing of them. As Sontag mention’s on page 281, “to collect photographs is to collect the world,” yet fewer images are printed and placed in albums. I can remember a time when finding an undeveloped roll of film meant the opportunity to be transported to the past and be reacquainted with loved ones who are now gone. Now, finding an old phone, or file of images in my computer, I rarely feel the same rush. I even find myself deleting images of anyone and anything but my children to make room to take the next picture. With our DSLR we find ourselves aggressively snapping pictures of passing scenery, sleeping children in the back seat and every piece of random americana we pass. I agree that “those occasions when the taking of photographs is relatively undiscriminating, promiscuous, or self-effacing do not lessen the didacticism of the whole enterprise.” (282) I generally do not, however, ever see the images we have captured.
While I think that we might photograph to document and as a way of “certifying experience” (283), the act of taking pictures also serves to legitimize our family outing. There are, of course, grandparents hundreds of miles away that live vicariously through the constant stream of images that we post onto the internet, but maybe knowing that our trip to the world’s largest ball of twine was worth photographing reminds us that the trip was worth taking at all.