Stop doing it for the Gram


(Tenaya Tremp)

By Luke Rasake

Everyone has heard that “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” The amount of teens trying their hand at photography recently is amazing, as there are vast amounts of Instagram accounts dedicated to the wonderful art, all showcasing the same oversaturated photos of flowers, the sunset, and their friends in front of flowers and sunsets. Now I’m not saying everyone should give up — there is a talent for photography that even I cease to possess — but if you’ve been taking the same photo of the “eye” you’ve been drawing on your math homework since the eighth grade, you do need to give up and indulge in something more worthwhile.

There is nothing I find more amusing than seeing the same green, open fields in the middle of nowhere posted over and over again in my Instagram feed. It really helps me visualize just how barren and boring Mill Valley is. And on nights when I feel deprived of human interaction, I can just scroll past the green fields, and indulge myself in the millions of selfies taken from the same crooked angle, with the same dumb filter. Is it really so hard to hold your phone straight? Another cliche that I can’t wrap my head around is the photos that people take of them staring into the distance of a beautiful landscape, or a dreamlike scene painted by the sky itself. The photos would be perfect if you had only refrained from inserting yourself. You got to experience the mesmerizing view without anyone standing in our way. Why are you now depriving us of that same experience? We understand with such great “talent” comes great ego, but as a wise man once said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” 

My biggest gripe with these self-proclaimed photographers is their lack of knowledge when it comes to operating a machine of some complexity, such as a camera. Why bother purchasing a machine you don’t know how to use, and in many cases, don’t need at all? You don’t need a thousand-dollar camera to take good photos — just use your phone. It might not make you feel like a “professional,” but you’re still taking photos, aren’t you? In no universe is it necessary to use a 35mm film camera to take photos of your night out with the soccer team. That job is for the $60 Polaroid cameras you buy from Hot Topic. The camera was once a glorious invention used to document poignant or significant moments in history, and now it’s being used to capture the $30 undercooked steak you ordered at the Cheesecake Factory. Is it humanity’s primal desire for technological degradation, or our desperation to capture every waking moment in the hopes that our lives don’t get forgotten or left out in the history books, no matter how poorly documented?

There are also many other things open for exploration and experimentation: Learn an instrument and further disappoint your parents, or maybe try your hand at Frisbee. The world offers you so many alternatives to express yourself creatively, so why choose the one thing you suck at? There are so many things you could be good at, but you limit yourself to the most surface-level of talents. Pack up, open your eyes, and give up.