Trip to Barcelona…and what is the point of photographs?

After meeting up with a load of mates in Southern Spain for a mates wedding I then headed to Barcelona on my own for a few days. It was great, and did a lot of thinking, and eating…

I really expected to take load of photographs while I was there, but I didn’t take any at all. I walked around Barcelona just experiencing it through my eyes, rather than a view finder. I found this so much more enjoyable. Maybe it could be that photography is more of a job for me now and so a break was good, or maybe it’s something different. I’ve been thinking about  the way cameras are being promoted to everyone now as this ‘must have’ item, we all now ‘need’ either a hugely powerful SLR or the smallest slickest pocket digital to snap ‘Kodak moments’ at every occasion, the consumerist dream. Wandering around Spain I saw like many other European counties, unlike the UK, the people are not obsessed by consumerism in the way we are in the UK. Why is this? Life seems a hell of a lot simpler in places like Spain, Greece and even Italy. They eat better than we do, live longer and some could say have happier lives, why? Could it be partly related to the fact that they are not continually sold things, both overtly and covertly, and having themselves forced into wanting an unattainable ‘perfect’ life by buying the next over priced gadget.

This does not have my relevance to my project, but I am fascinated by this sudden interest in owning a camera and thinking that makes you a photographer. For one, buying a SLR does not make you think like a photographer and does not make  you take good pictures, so why bother buying one, I would just stick to a simpler and much less expensive one and be happy with that, as they say big is not always better.

What else gets me is the inappropriateness of cameras now, standing in my mates wedding watching her walk down the aisle, I turned round to look back at the rows of people and it was just a sea of cameras and camera phones pointing at the bride. The couple had paid for a professional photographer to take pictures so I wonder why is it that everyone ‘needs’ to have their own version. I don’t blame people for wanting to get a good camera and work out how to use it, it’s just this obsession with getting a record of something to take home. It’s like memories are no longer good enough. Our brains are amazing things, they can store an immense amount of information which can then be recalled whenever and wherever we want it, it is the ultimate hard drive. Though the problem is no company can make money out that, so instead the multi-national companies encourage us that the way to remember is to snap away and store memories in a digital format. Truthfully how many times do this photos ever get shown? We download them in to a folder on our computer desktops and hardly ever look at them again. It is pointless.

Back to Barcelona, so wandering around looking at all the amazing architecture I decided to really enjoy just looking, and I really did. I stood outside many Gaudi buildings and just looked, didn’t take a shot and really saw things. I wasn’t looking for a good shoot or angle, just looked, and I think I will remember that feeling more than taking loads of pictures. It seems consumerism has changed our way of dealing with ‘experiences’. Why can we no longer have a memory and recall it when we wish? Why does it all have to be documented physically? This must seem odd for a documentary photographer to say, but I really think we are missing out.

Oh OK, I did take one or two images, but really only that few, I couldn’t resist the juxtaposition of the cranes with the old towers, here they are:

Gaudi and the Machines.
Gaudi and the Machines.

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