Tony on Sontag

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.

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One response to “Tony on Sontag

  1. Response to Susan Sontag’s In Plato’s Cave

    Susan Sontag expressed many interesting opinions in this article. What struck me the most was her view on photography and travel. Travel is one of my biggest passions. I’m almost always planning a trip, and I do take a lot of photos when I travel. However I have not thought much about the reason I take so many photos. Sontag states that “Photographs will offer indisputable evidence that the trip was made, that the program was carried out, that fun was had.” If I travel and don’t take any photos I feel like the trip is not the same, like I’m not accomplishing what I set out to do. The photos are proof that I went and had fun. The photo’s give the trip a bigger purpose.

    Most of the time when I get home from a trip the first thing I do is look at the photos and often times post them on facebook and share them with friends and family. Sontag writes that “Using a camera appease the anxiety which the work-driven feel about not working when they are on vacation and supposed to be having fun.” When I share my photos I feel like I’m proving to everyone including myself that I was accomplishing something. In this respect photography becomes an obsession, a need to capture all the fun moments and pretty sights that we witness. Photography makes us feel better about life. This article really made me rethink how I utilize photography in my life.

    Well that about wraps it up, I better go take a photo…..

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