They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I’d like to use the next 750 of them to file a complaint about the rash of “look how freaking hot it is” photos circulating the interwebs this week.
Car thermometers, bank thermometers, high-tech thermostats, Radio Shack handheld devices, patio thermometers in moose motifs from Cabela’s, all with dismal, dispiriting, debilitating readings: 103…108…113…. Enough already! It’s been hot. Really hot. I get it, people! The underlayers of my hair have been wet for weeks. My garage feels like a pizza oven. I haven’t smiled since 9:17 a.m., June 23!
I see three bank thermometers on my way home from work. (Is there, indeed, a bank on every corner of this town? Because it sure as heck seems like it.) I don’t need to come home to see 24 different depictions of mercury rising on my Facebook feed. I have a 24/7 Weather Channel habit to remind me how miserable I am, thank you very much.
That said, I completely understand there’s a little journalist in all of us, eager to record the milestones, markers and miscellaneous moments of our lives. Some photos — the ones with people, not numerals, as subjects — are priceless pieces of personal history.
In high school, I had a girlfriend who was constantly pointing and shooting her Instamatic. Slumber parties, proms, school plays, awards assemblies, trips to the lake — there wasn’t a special event, double date or road trip she failed to capture on Kodachrome.
“Stop! Enough already!!” we’d scream while shielding our faces from our shutterbuggy sister.
She schlepped her film (yes, film!) to the local drugstore where it was processed into prints. (This took several days in the dark ages.) Thoughtfully, she displayed them into albums to share with pals at the next sleepover. The images were, by today’s standards, laughably “low res,” but those faded snapshots are pure gold to us now — evoking wild laughter, bittersweet nostalgia and complete amazement that we were ever that young and skinny.
These days, pictures are a dime a digital dozen — ubiquitous and random, taken not for posterity’s sake but because our cameras seem to always be in our hands.
I know, because I am one of the worst offenders.
A quick scan of my Blackberry shows 193 images, breaking down in the following categories:
Special events or occasions: 39
Misfires (shots of the floor, darkness, inside of my purse): 14
Lucy, the cocker spaniel: 26 (because she’s just so doggone cute)
Self-portraits (face or feet — don’t ask): 10
Bank thermometers: 5 (Hey, I never said I haven’t succumbed to temptation!)
Yes, I take an extraordinary amount of food photos. Some might say, a crazy amount.
On the Blackberry, I found — to my dismay — six (count ‘em) SIX shots of the same plate of deviled eggs.
Were the deviled eggs especially beautiful? Were they unusual in the way they were filled or arranged on the plate? Was the plate itself an antique or a unique work of art? No, no and no. My motivation is a mystery. I must have thought, on some subconscious level, that if I was going to go to the trouble of devilling eggs on a hot summer day, I wanted visual evidence of my efforts.
On our trip to Italy this spring, I documented every course of every meal with, at least, one photo. Not only mine, but my spouse’s, too!
“Wait!” I’d say, as he prepared to dive headfirst into a plate of fresh pesto lasagna. “Spin it around, let me get a picture!”
“We’ve been hiking for hours,” he’d protest too much. “I’m starving!”
Five minutes later, after I’d shot the pasta from every conceivable angle, garnering odd stares from Italians at neighboring tables, he took his first bite.
Admittedly, this is fairly innocuous stuff. Still, it begs the question: Are we spending too much time documenting our lives instead of living them?
It’s worth a ponder, I think.
But first, the most amazing storm clouds have gathered overhead. Wait! Where’s my camera…?
— Cathy Hamilton is a public relations and marketing consultant, author of 16 books and blogger at boomergirl.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.