The Value of Pictures

“Stop talking and smile at the camera.” – a very irritated father to his ~8 year old daughter at Schiphol airport.

Airports are always a fun place to be at, so I can never quite stop myself from looking around and observing all those thousands of people walking about, some rushing to catch a plane, others spending hours in the shopping area as if it’s a nice day out. This time, my Schiphol Airporttrip happened to coincide with a blogging day, so when the rather odd quote at the top of this post came about, I couldn’t help turning it into a post. After all, this was no real unusual comment.

When the comment was made, the father had been desperately trying to make a selfie (on one of those sticks you can put your phone on) of himself and his daughter at a large window, with the planes in the background. I happened to be sitting right across from them watching those same planes and failing to keep my attention on my Politics textbook, when the father began to get a little frustrated. At first, he seemed to be enjoying his daughter’s jokes and derp faces, but as the minutes started to pass by, he got angry. They HAD to make that photo.

The eventual end result was the most typical example of a deceptive holiday photo that you’ll ever find: two feigned smiles while in reality all happiness had faded away. In fact, while they started out being quite cheerful and excited about their flight back home, they ended up feeling grumpy in the case of the dad, and at the very least a whole lot less excited in the case of the daughter. But what for? A photo? Is that really worth the trouble?

What makes this so strange is that the picture gives the holiday no added value whatsoever. It certainly won’t be a picture that will forever give good memories of that wonderful holiday in the country of cheese and tulips (and, let’s be honest, weed and prostitutes). Instead, it will serve only as Selfie sticka nice Facebook status update with a short caption explaining how great a time they had, followed by a lot of likes by mostly disinterested Facebook contacts. In short, then, the picture doesn’t serve to enhance the experience, but instead serves only to get some attention. A cute smile might haul in some extra likes, and then everyone will know where they’ve gone.

Most likely, you’ll interpret that conclusion as an accusation, as a judgement on the man’s actions. But I’m not so sure. Wanting to be unique and to be recognised for that uniqueness is one of the most human things you can do, so unless there is something wrong with humanity (a case which, admittedly, can be made), there is no reason to judge the father, However, it is something to think about. What if we did it differently?

That doesn’t mean I think we should return to the time of giant photo collages of every holiday that don’t include any selfies. In essence, that’s the exact same thing, as that collage is always the first thing to be pulled out at family get-togethers when the destination country is brought up, regardless of context. It just misses the like button, but other than that it fits the pattern in every way. Instead, how about a holiday without posed pictures? Or, more extreme, a holiday without any pictures at all. What you might find is that, although you won’t have any physical evidence of your trip, you’ll see a lot more. You’ll remember a lot more. And in the end, who really needs that evidence when the experience itself can be so great?


Don’t forget to rate/share/like this post, and if you have any thoughts of your own, please do leave them in the comments! And if you’re new here? Feel free to like the Facebook page for regular updates, or try having a look at the list of most popular posts!

More on related topics by Dean Richards:

Why Advertisement Is The Most Important Invention of the Last Two Centuries

The New Lent: A True Way to Improve Yourself

Nine Life Lessons for People Travelling through Wales (or for travelling anywhere… and actually also for people sitting on their couch…)


About Dean Richards

A young student with a passion for writing. Aspiring author and human rights activist, but I write about anything. "If you don't like how things are, change it! You're not a tree!" New blog post every Monday!
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