The bigger picture: Taking too many photos prevents us from fully enjoying life

Roshan Fernandez

Cannot take photo. There is not enough available storage. You can manage your storage in Settings.

Many of us have seen this or a similar message pop-up on our phones. Even for those of us who still have storage left because our camera rolls haven’t quite overflowed, the issue remains the same — in the modern age, we take too many pictures.

When we were younger, it used to be our mom telling all our friends to stand in a line and smile so she could take what felt like 86 photos. Whenever we went to a new destination, whether it be the Golden Gate Bridge or the Empire State Building, we would spend at least 10 minutes, if not more, snapping photos of that iconic spot from every possible angle. Now that we’re older, we take out our phones at concerts, just like everyone else, to Snapchat 34 videos of the performers singing today’s top hits as the crowd goes wild. At sports events, we spend two-thirds of the game trying to film an incredible play so we can post it online.

The bottom line is that there’s no reason for us to take so many photos. We can Google pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Empire State Building that were taken by professional photographers, which are likely far better than the ones we sporadically snapped. We can find videos from the concert on YouTube, in addition to the best plays of the game, carefully filmed by professionals. Obviously, the quality of their photos and videos will be better than anything we can possibly capture. Yet we still become engulfed in the prospect of trying to capture every moment — so much so that we’re missing the point. We are no longer living in the moment.

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t take any pictures whatsoever — pictures are completely acceptable, but only in moderation. Of course, it’s easier to justify taking a photo of a special moment, like your friend blowing out the candles on their 18th birthday. Events like these aren’t possible to replicate after they pass, and it’s great to be able to look back on good memories. There’s no denying that re-visiting the past can bring us happiness.

But we shouldn’t go overboard. We don’t need that random picture of the whiteboard from math class, which we know we’ll never look back at, or 12 identical photos of the landscape from the time we went to Santa Cruz. We don’t need 53 pictures from a spontaneous photoshoot with our friends. Taking photos on our phone should be saved for special occasions, or meaningful moments which we know we will look back on to reminisce. Ironically, we spend so much time taking photos, but 48% of MVHS students admit that they have no use for more than 50% of the photos in their camera roll, based on a survey of 359 students.

Instead, we should learn to soak in the moments — in real time. We should learn to appreciate what is in front of us. We should learn to understand that nothing, not even a photo, will allow us to fully relive the experience that is right in front of us. There’s no simple formula to make sure we savor every moment that life presents us with, but one thing is certain — if we’re seeing our life through a phone’s camera, we should take a hint and put the phone away.