HomeHome : Monthly Tips : Jul 2011

Take Fewer Pictures

July 2011 — Tip of the Month

One of the biggest advantages of digital cameras over their film-based predecessors is the ability to take unlimited pictures. With film-based cameras, you only had 24-30 shots per roll of film and you would pay for each one to be developed, whether it was a good picture or not. Today, digital cameras can store hundreds or even thousands of photos on a single memory card. If you take a bad photo, you can immediately view and delete it. The cost of importing photos into your computer is negligible and you only have to pay for the prints you want.

Clearly, digital cameras have a number of advantages over film-based cameras. But they have one major disadvantage that is often overlooked: Digital cameras cause us to take too many pictures. Since each digital photograph is essentially free, it costs the same amount to take one photo or one hundred photos. Therefore, most of us end up taking far more photos that we actually need.

Being an undisciplined shutterfly has two negative effects:

  1. Our photo libraries grow unnecessarily large.
    Remember those old photo albums from your childhood? They probably only had a few photos of each event. Yet those photos are enough to relive the memories. Now, with digital cameras, we take dozens of photos of nearly everything we do, and import the pictures en masse. Sure, it may be fun to view the pictures a few days after the event, but do you really want to view 50 pictures of a single soccer game 10 years from now? The fact is, most of us rarely, if ever look back at the thousands of photos we take. If our photo libraries weren't so cluttered, we might view them more often.
  2. We miss out on real-life moments.
    I've seen it happen too many times – people miss memorable events because they are too busy taking pictures. When you're busy adjusting your camera's focus, it's hard to focus on the moment you are trying to capture. What's the point of going to a concert when you spend half the time trying to take photos (or videos) of the performance? Isn't the memory of the concert experience better than looking at a few fuzzy dark photos at a later date? Family get-togethers may be the quintessential photo-op, but is it worth missing out on the experience because you took too many pictures? Sometimes it's better to stop and smell the roses rather than take a few dozen pictures of them.

Next time you find yourself in a picture-taking frenzy, ask yourself these two questions: 1) When will I actually take the time to look at these photos?, and 2) Is my camera preventing me from experiencing the moment? Hopefully, with these questions in mind, you'll take just enough pictures to capture the memories without missing the moments you're trying to capture.

- Per Christensson