By Taylor Marvin
Here’s the image that greets users logging in to Flickr today:
I don’t know if it’s worth reading too much into this, but none of the four cameras hanging around our intrepid photographer neck in the stock photo Flickr chooses to represent their business are actually capable of easily uploading photos to a website.
This photographic nostalgia is common — iPhone apps like Hipstamatic and Instagram are frequently used to wash out images, or mimic antiquated sepia or Polaroid photography. Sometimes — like in a recent Foreign Policy photo series chronicling the war in Afghanistan through Hipstamatic — these effects are used to create images of incredible power and haunting beauty, but more often they’re used as a lazy gimmick that parodies the great images of the last century. This trend is inconsequential, but it is interesting. Modern digital cameras are light years more capable than their analog predecessors, producing images of unparalleled clarity and detail. The irony of passing modern images through programs explicitly designed to make them look darker, grainier, and in general shittier can’t be lost of most people.
Though of course, the heaviest users of these apps are my generation, people young enough to have never experienced analog photography. Absence make the heart grow fonder.