Helicopter Shutterbugs

Helicopter Shutterbugs

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to forget or lose any important memories in life — especially with my kids.

That’s why people capture memories with pictures — including me.

But with a high-end camera embedded inside every smart phone, parents have become addicted to capturing every single moment of their kids’ lives.

They’ve become helicopter shutterbugs.

The behavior is creating situations that are at once awkward, ironic, cliche and metaphysical.

Case in point: the picture I took above with my own smart phone camera. The scene is a picture-taking session for my son’s baseball team.

The portable studio and “baseball field backdrop” in the elementary gym was strange enough, considering there was a real baseball field a few feet outside, and it was a sunny day with beautiful light.

But it got really strange when 10 parents urgently whipped out their smart phones to capture their own shots of the professional photographer taking the official team photo.

To me, there was a more interesting photo of the parents versus the kids sitting patiently for their picture.

For that, I feel sorry for the kids. (Confession: I grabbed a few photos of the events as well — the parents and the kids.)

It would be great if we could reduce the extent to which smart phone photography defines the actual moment. It’s becoming rampant.

Perhaps parents could agree on a just a few people to take pictures, and immediately share them afterward with everyone else? Is there a smart phone app for that?

Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

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  1. Not directly related, but I find that if you focus too much on taking pictures, you miss out on experiencing the moment.  It’s one of the reasons why in the past I would not take  any pictures while travelling – I wanted to maximize the savouring of the moment.  (However, my wife quickly put an end to that behaviour and now I am required to take at least some pictures – Good overall as you get the balance of experiencing the present while still being able to go back and remember the past).

    These days, taking pictures is too easy and most people don’t have the self control (nor the ability to distinguish between important and not important) to limit themselves.  So they take pictures of everything, knowing that now they are guaranteed not to miss something important (but not knowing that they will never have the time to find that important shot hidden amongst thousands of unimportant ones)


  2. Max, for the most part I agree with you on this, but I will tell you of a situation in which a parents photographing of her kid was a good thing. A family lost their 12 year old son last September in a flash flood created by all the storms in the Northeast. A complete stranger who had photographer her own son at the Lego store several months earlier realized that she had inadvertently taken a photograph of the young man who had died and sent copies to the family. The mother was so grateful to have more photos and memories of her son….in that case I believe it was a blessing.

    1. Good story. I just think it’s a balance. And your example is a crowd-sourcing example. Where the parents didn’t take the picture, but a bystander did. This is one of the sharing use cases I was referring to whereby there seems to be no mobile phone app. I definitely don’t think it’s Instagram.

      1. Yes its definitely a balance. I am more likely to experience the events with my kids, it doesn’t even occur to me to take pictures…my husband on the other hand is more likely to take pictures….that’s how my family balances it! ;0)

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