Capturing history - Shawn Loughlin editorial
You don’t need me to tell you that we live in the era of selfies. Everyone takes them every day, whether it be for social media, or just to preserve a memory, we are constantly taking pictures of ourselves and our loved ones. The reason we’re doing this is that just about all of us have an extremely high-powered camera in our pockets now at all times.
Maybe I’m a bit biased because it’s what I do for a living, but there’s just no substitute for a picture - candid or posed - taken by someone who knows what they’re doing with the proper equipment.
I remember I had the first cell phone in the province (or the country, I can’t remember) that had a camera. Not the very first one, of course, but the first model. That was back when I worked for Rogers and we were able to find out about these kinds of things before they made their way to the general public. The pictures it took were awful (I know I took more than one picture at a concert with those old flip phones that just looked like a spot of light in the middle of a sea of black, kind of like seeing Las Vegas from a plane at night) but it was a phone that took pictures. I had more than one of my friends ask me why I needed a camera in my phone, but I think the subsequent 20 years have proven me right.
So now, here we are. We’re in the iPhone, Google Pixel, Samsung Galaxy era and phones have replaced just about everything. It’s your camera, it’s your television and movie theatre, it’s your information source, it’s the way you communicate with the world and yes, the odd time you might even make a phone call with it.
The pictures we take with our phones are essential. As the father of a two-and-a-half-year-old girl, not a week has gone by that I haven’t taken a picture or a video of my little girl and those memories are priceless. When I was a kid, hauling out the camera was a chore and, furthermore, you had to develop film which both took time and cost money. So, you weren’t capturing those everyday moments - you only bothered to take pictures or video for special occasions. People my age have a lot of pictures from birthdays, Christmases, vacations or other special occasions like a First Communion, and not a lot of candid, everyday pictures - it was just too much of a pain.
So, while I’m not going to run down having a cell phone camera at the ready at all times, there is something about a professional taking your picture that just feels different.
Last Saturday, Jess, Tallulah and I were joined by Jess’s parents at the Santa Claus parade here in Blyth. I was busy holding Tallulah for the most part, so I didn’t take any pictures of my own, but Jess took a few and they were lovely memories from the day.
When I got into the office on Monday morning, our photographer John Stephenson had e-mailed, telling me that he had taken a number of pictures of us, mostly me and Tallulah, at the parade as we watched and he worked. The pictures are hard to beat.
So, while the market for pictures taken by photographers at The Citizen, for example, may not be what it used to be, with everyone with a smartphone thinking they’re Annie Leibovitz, there is something to be said for a picture taken by someone who knows what they’re doing, using the right equipment and capturing a moment in your life.
The saying goes that newspapers are the rough first draft of history. Well, that goes for images too and, as someone who’s been at it now for over 16 years, who’s seen people grow up and grow old, there’s value in that.