Living through a lens

There is an ongoing argument at the moment that apps like instagram take a fundamentally raw snapshot, stored on your Iphone or imported from your camera, and change it for the worst. That blurring, filtering and brightening images detracts from them, cheapening an otherwise well-captured image. This argument is presented to me whenever I confess my love for VSCO, that if my photos aren’t good enough to be uploaded as they are, filtering them will only make them worse.

I suppose it’s a reflection on us, a generation of people that would prefer to upload an unrealistic photograph than one that shows the true moment, decaying leaves and grey skies are a sure sign that the crisp winter wind is creeping in, and yet for some reason the chilling winter scene looks more aesthetically pleasing with a red overlay on top. Again it comes back to the topic of life on the internet, a few bloggers have touched on it declaring that readers should never hold their own lives up to those of prolific bloggers or even facebook friends, because whether it’s deliberate or not we all use some kind of filter when we decide to show the best of us we possibly can.

As long as we take social networking sites with a pinch of salt we won’t get swept away in a tide of unrealistic expectations, and that’s also important when looking at filtered photographs. At the end of the day, no matter how many effects you add to a snapshot post-production, nothing can compare to being caught in the moment just before you lift the camera from around your neck or awkwardly wriggle your phone from the depths of your pocket.

Saying that, some of my favourite images I’ve taken are all edited post production in either VSCO or instagram. They all capture fleeting moments of places I’ve grown to love, and moments I’ll never forget, and I feel the filters add a kind of retrospective wonder to them, the faded, contrast-enhanced pictures now possess an almost mnemonic quality, even the blurry, out of focus images represent something now and I’m glad to have a filter to achieve just what I was trying to when I shakily pressed the volume up button on my Iphone.

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