A thousand sunsets
Everyone has a smartphone. Everyone under 50, anyway. I live in a somewhat disadvantaged rural area and during a recent doctor visit I was the only one in the waiting room with insurance. Yet everyone had a smartphone and most of the patients much younger than I. Now, I'm retired from interest in the politics of health care. What interests me here is the necessity which the smartphone has become. The cell phone bill gets paid first, and although we all accept that truth, beings landing here from Mars might find it odd. Part of our phone romance is fanned by texting and social media. Equally enticing, however, is that camera inside it, always at hand. Indeed, social media and photography are intertwined, especially as young people embrace sites like Snapchat, and jettison Facebook to the fogies to share recipes and political bile. Camera upgrades are an integral part of improving smartphone technology and cell brands tout the features of their cameras as much as their phones' properties when advertising. My nephew will argue the virtues of Android images over iPhone images just as those before him argued Canon over Nikon, film over digital. Feeding the freenzy is the multiplicity of opportunities to post. One of the St. Louis TV stations recently tweeted a call for user photos of a particularly brilliant twilight in the city. Their Twitter feed became the portal of a thousand sunsets. Smartphones inundate modern life with images. Ten years ago, perhaps one person would have captured the flaming twilight behind the St. Louis skyline. Last week ten thousand had. So what of the professional or art photographer, then? A society awash in images does not need you as much, its true. Add to that, the affluence of a nation in which an SLR camera is often considered as much a family necessity as a vacuum cleaner. I say, it's wonderful if a mother wants to take her own family portraits. I say, it's just fine that ten thousand St. Louisans captured the sun going down. Art is contageous, and humanizing. As an art photographer, all you can do is continue to see your own way, and strive to capture your own vision. I call this photograph Vespers, because it made me want to pray.