Something my fellow editor, the delightful Ms Ava Aviación, said in last issue’s editor’s debate has got me thinking. She mentioned our propensity for considering everything being new as being better and, in the case of technology, she felt that these tools “actually disadvantage us as a society”; she also cites the terrible bi-product of this being that we live in a “throwaway culture”. Considering my profession, which uses new and emerging technologies and my role as a father of three, the importance of these things has started to come in sharp relief.
The very fact that I can even contemplate a career as a photographer is due to the affordability and the advanced nature of the equipment I use. But this is a double-edged sword as that same affordability means every Tom, Dick or Harry can buy the same camera and claim to be a ‘professional photographer’. The obvious difference being that I actually trained in the art of taking photographs using fully manual film cameras and dark-room equipment, and so bring that training to my work. Unfortunately, to the average layperson, this makes no difference; more often than not their choice is down to cost.
So the very thing that drives my ability to work also puts me at a distinct disadvantage… it means that everything I do becomes a fight to survive, you have to be exceptional to stand out from the crowd or cheap enough for this not to matter. Nothing is ever ‘good enough’ anymore, the modern world has no room for ordinary.
And then I think about the fact that if it’s this bad now, it’s going to be a hell of a lot worse for my children, unless something changes. It’s a sobering thought.
I can’t help but compare their current childhood with my own, back in the hazy-lazy days of the 80s. We were lucky enough to have a television set but, it being the relatively early days of TV, suitable programming was limited to a few hours from 6am to 9am in the morning, and after school between 3.30pm and 5.30pm, plus family friendly stuff like ‘The Muppet Show’ on weekends. All of this on only two channels, expanding to three with the introduction of Channel Four (BBC 2 didn’t show children’s stuff).