In the days of daguerrotypes sitting for a portrait was a rare and special occasion. Film cameras, Polaroids, disposable cameras, One Hour Photos and the rest democratized taking pictures through the 20th century and increased our willingness to capture a given moment, sure, but digital photography truly changed things. With digital photography and, particularly, internet-connected smartphone photography, the number of photos being captured each second is staggering. The graph above shows that in 2017 over 1.2 billion photographs were taken, nearly doubling the number from just four years prior, which itself was a doubling of the number from a few years before that.
Why, though? Why are we taking so many photos? No period in human history has been visually chronicled with greater clarity than this present one, and it seems that this capturing of given moments will only increase. It has also become normal to expect visual proof of any claim, large or small – “pics or it didn’t happen” is a contemporary sort of rallying cry. Is each photograph a way of proclaiming our own vision and perspective? Are we just announcing “I exist, I was here, and I ate this empanada?”
And yet the old guidance not to believe everything we see has never been more true, too. We can take photos of perfect moments and crop out everything troubling. It seems there is a wide gulf between simply seeing and also perceiving and interpreting. If there is one thing I have learned living in this visual age, it’s my own need to simply disconnect and take time to contemplate what I have taken in consciously and unconsciously. We are finite; embrace your God-given humanity. Turn off your screens and contemplate the petals of an azalea for a few minutes. Breathe and rest in the presence of God. Remember that you were fearfully and wonderfully made and that you are more than enough to receive God’s grace and love. Seeing the world through that transformed lens awakens us to the great mystery we proclaim and are invited into each day with fresh eyes.
Grace and Peace,
For your consideration:
Then he said to me, “These people have come out of great hardship. They have washed their robes and made them white in the Lamb’s blood. This is the reason they are before God’s throne. They worship him day and night in his temple, and the one seated on the throne will shelter them. They won’t hunger or thirst anymore. No sun or scorching heat will beat down on them, because the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them. He will lead them to the springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.