When the Teacher Starts to Learn


Before cellphone photography became a legitimate medium of expression, making a picture meant picking up a camera and shooting. I often think about what a game changer the not-so-humble cameraphone has become. But, while Generation X and Generation Y have transcended easily into the scheme of things and became adept at embracing this new form of seeing and saying, how did the generation before ours take to this medium? In specific, I am referring to our parents, and their shooting habbits.

Take a look at your parent’s photo gallery (if they allow you to) to see how they think and what their vision of photography is like. I did this exercise recently, going through my mother’s phone first. As expected, her gallery was filled with blurry photographs, owing to her poor vision as she refuses to wear her glasses all the time. The images that are not blurry have her thumb sticking to one corner of the frame.

My father’s phone, on the other hand, features a carefully curated selection of selfies with various friends, family and even celebrities. Amongst the selfie collection is a very special photograph, one he shot with my mom. He has caught a very sweet moment, one where he cheekily stares at my mother as she looks into the lens, smiling.

That picture made me smile too, and I’m still smiling as I write about it. It makes me wonder though, in our pursuit of perfection, are we forgetting the genuine happiness that one can derive from making a picture? We pride ourselves in being perfectionist photographers, but even a blurry picture, albeit an honest one, can make us happy. Our parents don’t care about what cameraphone they’re using to make that picture. They are just concerned about being in the moment they are photographing. And there’s a lot to learn from that.

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