Has Instagram Stopped Us from Living in The Moment?….. NO!

I’ve been taking photographs regularly since I discovered Flickr in 2007. Unfortunately by then it was too late for me to have gleaned enough knowledge from it to pick a decent wedding photographer (I was married in 2006 and the professional photos were not very good. Thankfully my Brother-in-Law had his camera and took a bunch of great album worthy photos, phew!)

My love affair with phone photography started with the app Hipstamatic (which I really need to start using again) and then when instagram appeared, I was all about “the ‘gram”.

In my time taking photos I have completed 3 separate 365 projects (2 documented on my Flickr and 1 solely on instagram) For those who don’t know what this is, it’s simply taking one photo a day for a whole year. It’s kind of hard, and sometimes you don’t know what to take a picture of or just forget. But it’s taught me to really consider what makes a photo ‘interesting’ and whether a picture really is interesting before I load it to the internet. It really helped me to look at things in a different way to enable me to take a decent photo 365 times over a year.

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But after the first 2 (I did those back to back, since the first one was rather boring) I decided to put my camera away for the most part. I didn’t keep it in my bag (mobile phones didn’t have decent – or sometimes any – camera back then) I felt like I was too swept up with taking a photo at every good opportunity that I was missing out on the actual experience.

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Since then, and with vast technological advances, we all have awesome cameras in our pockets. My iPhone camera has a higher pixel quality than my Canon dSLR. But there’s always the chance to get swept up in a photo moment rather than fully living the experience. I remember going to an exclusive Hosier gig. The tickets were REALLY hard to get and he was just about topping his game. Everyone was talking about him. Two women in front of me took a few photos at the start of the gig, and then about an hour later I saw one of them uploading them to her instagram (whilst the gig was happening) and then within 15 minutes she was back on instagram, not only checking her likes, but sharing the photos with her friend sitting next to her – of the gig she was at that was STILL HAPPENING. She was busy reminiscing about something that was still happening in front of her and that she was missing….. FACE PALM

It’s certainly a fine line between sharing an experience and completely missing it. Years back, just after Michael Jackson had died, I went to a local town to see a Thriller Flashmob (remember when flashmobs were a thing?) The actual flashmob might have been good, I don’t know because this is what happened:

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You can play ‘spot the MJ impersonator’ with this one. I was totally struck by the amount of hands, phones and cameras there were in my way (this was 2009 so it wasn’t hugely the norm). But then, remember mine was in the crowd too!

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My first fulltime job was in retail back in 2001 and me and the girls used to find it odd seeing holiday makers with their cameras in a shopping centre taking photos of themselves in front of stores….. little did we know it would be the norm just a few year later.

Anyway, this is all bringing me to why I’m here talking about this today. A few days back Sara Tasker shared a link on Twitter (which you can find here) This article is about a Vimeo video (that you can watch in the article) created by a fella named Oliver, showing how ‘everyone takes the same pictures on instagram’. In itself it’s a really enjoyable video to watch, and well put together, so I’d encourage you to see it. But this site decided to interview the creator and here’s what he said:

“During my trip, I felt that many people didn’t really enjoy the moment and were hooked to their smartphones,” he says. “As if the ultimate goal of travel was to brag about it online and run after the likes and followers.”

I was with him up until then. I feel like this guy has really missed the point of instagram. He’s actively searched on instagram for places, tags and similarities and then put them together in a video. You could make a video of old paintings of fruit and tell people about how everyone back then was so obsessed with sharing their fruit bowls that their apples went bad before they could eat them…..

What he saw when he watched the video (he’d carefully curated) “Everyone spends the whole time behind their screen, everyone spends their whole holiday trying to get the perfect shot, that shot has been done already, this is all for likes, oh look at you bragging about your pretty beach holiday”

What I saw when I watched his video: “These people are living their best lives, look how happy they are, what an awesome view, what a crazy experience, these people belong in this world, I wish I could visit this place one day”

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What Oliver has failed to remember is

  • instagram promotes creativity, and it’s awesome to be creative and share that with like-minded people
  • taking photos is FUN
  • Not everyone is sharing everything from their holidays. That shot you’re seeing is the work of potentially 1 minute of their life
  • So what if they do spend their whole holiday with their face in their phone – it’s THEIR holiday and THEIR face!
  • Everyone is chasing experience to fill their one chance at life – so what if they’re having and then sharing the same experience as someone else has. It’s their experience – there are A LOT of them to have.
  • Sharing on instagram provides a little ‘experience’ to everyone who sees that picture. And it’s amazing for those who can’t (or haven’t yet) visit these places. Isn’t that the point, really?
  • If you feel it’s a ‘brag’ or you don’t like it – don’t look at it. Instagram isn’t mandatory. And if you can’t come off it, because you’re enjoying sharing your own pictures, remember why you’re using it. Your feed is there for you; curate it. Someone might just be sitting there looking at your photos thinking ‘what a bloody bragger’. They’re not for you, just like you, Oliver, are not for them.

I’m definitely an advocate of not missing an experience. But I’m also very concerned about forgetting experiences I’ve had. I have a huge fear that my memory will go and it’s a very lonely feeling. I want to be able to relive past experiences, and reminisce. The world of online albums and having a camera ‘right there’ when I need it is wonderful to me. I understand you shouldn’t have your face in your screen all the way throughout your life. If I’m filming or photographing something, I’m very careful to not view it through a viewfinder. But so what if people do – it’s their life, and if it makes them happy then ‘whatever’. And who knows, they might have experienced that thing a hundred times before, so filming whilst you’re there shouldn’t anger you – you concentrate on you. They might just be taking pictures or filming something on behalf of someone who just couldn’t get there. Their sharing this experience could bring enormous joy to someone across the globe, or even just to them in years to come.

It boils down to – why do you care so much? Concentrate on yourself, Oliver, and don’t spend so much time on Vimeo making videos about other people’s life experiences….. say what? It’s what you enjoy…..? oh! well…. my point has been made.

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All images are my own, are copyrighted to me and cannot be used under any circumstance.

I Don’t Know About You

Last night we took our niece Leah to London to see Taylor Swift at the O2 arena. We bought the tickets for a birthday/Christmas present for her and it seemed like ages until the day arrived but yesterday it finally happened! And it was amazing!

We arrived in time for Leah to get home from school and get changed and then we headed to the train station. We knew about the tube strike but still wanted the train journey to be part of the fun day out so arranged to go out on the train and then get a lift home. The wind was so strong and it was very cold but we kept busy chatting on the platform while we waited for the train. The journey was fun and before we knew it we were in London!

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We took the busy underground to Greenwich and headed for the O2 where we made a beeline for the merchandise stand. We got very excited when we saw there were glow sticks! We got a glow stick each and a cool t-shirt too! Then we had a mooch for restaurants and ate dinner at Frankie & Benny’s.  Fed and watered we headed to our seats – we didn’t want to miss the support act.

Sitting in our seats, I was amazed at all the signs people had made – all of which were adorned or shaped with fairy lights! When the lights went down the effect was amazing – like a massive Christmas tree of shapes and words. People were dressed up too – we spotted a massive pumpkin, two bears and two women dressed in wedding dresses with veils! There were a lot of tiny red shorts and striped tops too! Everyone had put so much effort in. Our seats were really good too with mostly adults around us we were the most exuberant in our area!

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The support act was The Vamps and only knowing two of their songs I wasn’t sure whether I’d enjoy it, but they were really good and sung two covers which I knew. Such a young group of lads but they really knew how to work the crowd and got everyone warmed up for the main event.

Candy floss in hand, we were all sugared up and excited for Taylor to come on stage. We didn’t have to wait long but were entertained by watching Momma Swift making the rounds in the seated floor area and taking photos with fans. And then finally the lights went down and the crowd went mental. Seriously the loudest crowd I’ve experienced – and that was including myself!

The whole show was amazing, with great sets and dancing, pyrotechnics and confetti. The songs were themed and included steam punk, circus and ballet with some amazing violin work mixed in with dancing from Caitlin – she’s amazingly bendy! Well known songs were performed in alternative genres and kept you guessing. Taylor spoke to the crowd too which was great and kept it interesting. She’d been having surprise guests at her London concerts just as she had in her US tour and I was a little nervous as to who she would choose – they’d all been British so far (Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith) and last night was Danny from The Script. They sang Break Even which I actually know, which was helpful! The crowd went mental for it!

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After the show ended we were all hoarse and deaf but happy! Because of the tube strike they’d shut the station so it was a bit crazy with people and the weather had made a turn for the worst with torrential rain and gale force winds (not exaggerating!) But we eventually found our lift, and had the chance to shut our eyes for the journey home. Tired but content we arrived home and jumped into bed. We’d had an amazing time and had lots of memories of the night.

I can’t wait for my next concert!

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Let’s Eat and Shop!

Hello! I haven’t posted in over a week – craziness. I’ve been feeling a little exhausted and less than fun, so on my days off last week I chilled out and spent time with Gary when I could.

On Saturday night after I’d finished work we took a drive to our favourite local American Diner, Buddies. I have been wanting to try something they’d just put on their menu recently. Having been a fan of chips with gravy for some time, I was intrigued to find out it’s somewhat of a delicacy in Canada, except they add cheese. It’s called Poutine and when I saw that Buddies had added it, with optional toppings, I knew I had to try it. I went for poutine with pulled pork, fried onions and gravy.

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I have to say despite the size of the portion being enough for two, the food was stunning. I’ll definitely order this the next time I’m there. So good. Half the fun of going to Buddies is the drive. It’s a minimum of half an hour there and back, and we love to turn the music up loud and have a good old sing along. We’ve mostly been blaring out Taylor Swift. Incidentally this a bonus track from her latest album Red, which, I think,  should have been on the album. It’s epic.

We decided to go to Bluewater shopping centre on Sunday and have a mooch around. I ate lunch from Wasabi, and it was the first time I’d tried anything from there. I had Chicken Katsu Yakisoba, which was so delicious. I’ll definitely eat there again.

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I also sampled a piece of cake from Lola’s Cupcakes. It was apple and cinnamon flavour and was so yummy. It was moist and springy and fresh. Better than Hummingbird bakery which can be a little dry. I was very impressed.

We had a look in Uniqlo and I bought a lovely tunic from the Celia Birtwell range. I can’t wait for the weather to change for good so that I can wear it. I also bought some Lemony Flutter from Lush because my cuticles are wrecked from this cold weather. It’s also good on elbows and heels! I WILL be spring ready! And I treated myself to a Butterball bath bomb – though I used it last night and I’m sure they use much less oil in it now than they used to. Anyway, those were my treats.

When we got back we were really tired out so we crashed in front of the TV. We watched Cabin in the Woods for the first time. I’m a huge Joss Whedon fan but this movie fell flat for me. It was a little odd. I have just bought the Japanese film ‘A Tale of Two Sisters’ which I’m looking forward to watching. I don’t know anything about it but it seems to have good reviews!

On the reading front, I have so far this year given up on two books. It’s something I decided last year I wouldn’t do because I wanted to hit my 40 book challenge. But this year I’m finding that I haven’t got the time for books I don’t like! I borrowed my first book on my Kindle last week, Tom’s Midnight Garden, after it was recommended by a girl I work with. I’m about a quarter through and it’s good so far. I am finding I have less time to read at the moment, which is a shame. I’m just so tired all the time!

On the up side, the weather seems to be improving and next weekend they’re saying it could get to 15c – tropical! Here’s hoping!

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Here’s to Looking Forward

Every year I usually post an End of Year blog, which summarises my year and looks onto the next. I didn’t do one for 2010. To be honest 2010 sucked. For many reasons. And all the highlights were subjects of their own blogs so you will all already know about those events. So this year I’m writing a blog which will look forward to the things coming up in my calendar.

The first thing to look forward to this year is seeing Taylor Swift at the 02 Arena. I got seriously mocked in my last job for liking Miss Swift, but in my new job I get to listen to her music whilst I work – granted that’s pretty much the only music I can stand at work, but still. I like a large spectrum of different music (as you’ll see with my next few things to look forward to) but Taylor hit my radar when she released ‘Love Story’. It was more than just a teeny bopper love song with a country twang. So my Husband has agreed to endure an evening with Taylor surrounded by teenage teeny boppers, no doubt. What can I say, he loves me?! 🙂

The next event is also music related (in fact thinking about it they all are!). We’re off to see Roger Waters in Manchester. Apart from it being a weekend away for me and Hubby (which is very much-needed) we’re seeing The Wall by Pink Floyd performed in its entirity. Something which has to be seen, and as huge Pink Floyd fans we had to get tickets. We’ve already seen David Gilmour at the Royal Albert Hall, so this is just another thing to add to the list of must-sees seen!

After that we’re going to London to see Jersey Boys performed and spending a weekend there. We’ve seen Jersey Boys 3 times before (first time in San Fransisco and twice more in London.) You’d think after 3 times you wouldn’t want to see it again, but we still had the urge, so off to see it again, we are!

Then we’re going to see the Foo Fighters. They’re playing the Milton Keynes Bowl and since I live in Milton Keynes and adore the Foos it would have been an insult if I hadn’t been able to get tickets. I absolutely cannot wait!

And in the mix I’m hoping to get invited to a couple of weddings (I love weddings!) and also hoping that there’s some truth in the South Park Oxford Radiohead gig – and since they’ve just announced their new album I’ve got my fingers crossed.

I’m also aiming to get my second photography book finished and published by the end of the year. I loved making the first one so much and it’s going to be something I can keep forever, which I’m really proud of.

So here’s to a better year, filled with fun things, and good health. Raise your glass. Clink!

Do we live in Autotune Hell?

When you listen to current music it’s very easy to take for granted the perfection of the music and the vocals. There is now the luxury of being able to record and re record parts of the track and even splice parts from different takes in order to create the perfect article.

I miss the days when an artist would record the track in a room with the musicians and the best take was the take used. Take The Beatles for example. In the song ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite’ John Lennon sings ‘somersets’ instead of ‘somersaults’ and that was kept in the final track. Yes it’s wrong, but it adds character, no? In the track ‘Wipeout’ by Surfaris if you listen from the second half of the track, the musicians are out of time with each other. Now that’s a proper jam session! And in the song ‘I’m so Excited’ by the Pointer Sisters, the lead vocal goes flat quite a few times. But all of this was kept. I think it gives the track character.

I started to think about this more when I began listening to Taylor Swift. There are occasions when she goes sharp or flat on the finished tracks (I’m not even going to mention the Grammy’s performance!) but I liked it. It was actually refreshing to see that a current artist wouldn’t be forced into autotuning her vocals.

I HATE autotune. I can hear it louder than the actual vocal, and sometimes wonder if I’m the only person in the world who can hear it. I think most famously used by Cher when she released Believe – they even made a point of it when making the video by blurring her face every time they used it. It’s been most recently used on every vocal used in the TV Series Glee.

Now speaking of Glee, most of the singing actors in the series have come from a theatrical background and can obviously sing – so why autotune them? It’s like a robot singing. I decided to search ‘autotune’ on twitter and came up with a surprisingly high response of autotune haters. Now Glee was showing in UK at the time, so this may have inspired some of the tweets, but still. I was reasured by the amount of people who agreed with me.

Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, Michael Jackson – no autotune – OR if they did use something on their vocals (like reverb), it was subtle and sounded natural.

With all this autotune, how are these artists supposed to stand up and sing live without criticism? The answer is they don’t or they mime.

Let’s get back to natural sounding vocals from real people who can sing and not just pretty people who they can make sound like they can sing. Let’s bring the real talent back!