What is the Value of a Photograph?


Every day we log on to social media websites, we are asked variations of the same question—What are you doing right now? In recent years, the pursuit of creating a unique online identity has become extremely important, and you can see it very clearly in the way people portray themselves on the internet. A perfectly posed selfie, meticulously curated personal Instagram accounts and a constant flow of information based on showcasing one’s best self have become quite commonplace.

We live in times where the internet and smartphones have turned us into insatiable content consumers. To add to the endless stream of information we are faced with every day, the need to establish our own place in this unending series of updates is also extremely strong. It is, unfortunately, a vicious cycle of unabashed narcissism as well as a constant seeking of validation from strangers online, whose opinions may not even matter in the real world. This trend has also given rise to the need to prove that you, as an individual, do great things, and these great things must be photographed for the world to see. This has resulted in some unmitigated disasters, including an incident in February, where tourists in an Argentinian beach plucked a baby dolphin out of the sea to shoot selfies with it, thereby killing it in the process. Additionally, India was ranked the number one country in the world with the most selfie-related deaths, which resulted in many areas in Mumbai to be demarcated as ‘No Selfie Zones’. This culture of falsities and self obsession is quite a dangerous one, and I can only hope things don’t get worse than what they are at present.

We are all guilty of some degree of online narcissism, but perhaps it’s time to take our eyes off our own reflections and see the world around us. The bigger picture is definitely a more beautiful sight to see.

This article originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of Better Photography.

Tags: Supriya Joshi, Edit note, april 2016