KATHMANDU, June 5: Technology has helped mankind perform tasks easily and more efficiently. Tasks people of previous generations used to take hours to complete can now be completed in seconds, and professional tasks like calculating and programming has been made easier with the help of preloaded computer applications.
Working is easy now and taking pictures easier. In this global age of gadgets where smartphones and tablets rule the urban youth, taking photos is a ritual. And with modern gadgets equipped with decent cameras, taking pictures come easy.
What elevates this ritual of photo taking is the process that follows. With applications like Instagram, Paper Camera and Cymera, adding filters onto pictures to highlight them has turned into an urban culture.
Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter seem to be flooded with heavily edited pictures that, in most cases, degrade rather than compliment the pictures.
“I don’t edit pictures that regularly, I just like adding photo captions on top of pictures,” says 16-year-old Rushali Khadka, an SLC graduate who regularly edits pictures for Facebook. “I think it is fine for people to edit their pictures to some extent but to edit so heavily that the whole picture looks unnatural is not good. A lot of people on Facebook edit their pictures to look pretty or add that extra flair to their pictures, all for virtual popularity,” she adds.
Photo editing also helps young people in the race for popularity in the virtual world. Facebook users seem to be always on the hunt for a good profile picture and adding a little effect filter always helps because photos look better and people look prettier.
“I think this culture of editing arose when everything started getting digitalized,” says Nishant Sapkota, 20, A-Level graduate from Chelsea International Academy.
“As an amateur photographer, I slightly edit my pictures. But the problem arises when you edit a picture so much that it looks unnatural. The job of a photographer is to tell stories but what kind of story are you telling when you digitally change the mood, the ambience and the color of the setting? I think people are using Instagram only on a social basis and the editing culture hasn’t entered the photography world. We need to respect skills rather than technology and I guess, for now, we still have a strong respect for skills,” he adds
The easiness of technology brings about a lot of bad habits that even in the field of photography, photographers avoid. Amateur photographers are taught to avoid Photoshop or Lightroom until they are comfortable with the cameras because once young photographers get into the habit of editing photos digitally, they tend to do it often. In a way, it seems like technology is leading to the death of skills but young photographers are still avoiding the allure of digital editing, and editing seems to be restricted to the social network.
“There’s always a human need to look for differences,” says Shreya Sharma, 19, studying Global Studies at Randolph College, adding, “I think editing is fine because people edit pictures for them to look good. Not everyone is a professional photographer and casual photographers are entitled to edit them however they want. I think people should be more open to technological changes, and editing photos is one part of that technological advancement. Whatever people say, technology has turned into an undeniable part of our lives, and people need to accept technological changes and adapt to them.”
Editing is done professionally as well, with professional photographers editing photos according to the need of the media they are clicking photos for. Magazine styled photos require heavy airbrushing whereas photos for decorative purposes might be subject to heavy effect filters.
“I use effects on my photos depending on what medium I’m shooting for,” says Nischal Oli, 24, a freelance artist, writer, photographer freelancing for ECS Media among other places.
“I think in this modern age of technology, everyone edits but the thing about applications like Instagram is that it’s built for social networking. It’s a beginner’s software that people use to make pictures that other people will like. And I think the idea of applications like these is bad because you are externalizing photographic skill. It’s like using a GPS, it will get you to places in the shortest time but you don’t end up learning the route. People need to learn to take natural photos and learn to edit as well, not just select a filter that looks the best,” he adds.
It seems that the need to edit comes from the innate need of humans to do something differently and to create something different. Editing is putting a filter onto images to make a picture look different and better.
In many cases, young people seem to love to edit their picture to look old or look like a Polaroid because of the aesthetic value of Polaroid picture and also because it will make their picture look different.