Why do we take pictures? Is it for the benefit of others? Do we shape the perceptions of our story for ourselves, or is it for the purpose of showing others a preview into our own lives or even the lives we want?

Pictures have a way of solidifying our personal experiences, and stories from our point of view.  Pictures provide a platform for our individual and unique perceptions of an experience. There is no single story in an image, all of us project our own perceptions fueled by the memories of a particular feeling at the time the picture was taken.

Social media has shifted the importance of taking pictures. It’s almost become a necessity for filling people in on our lives. It has become a method for creating a single story, the story we want others to see, and for influencing  not only the perceptions of others but the perceptions we have of ourselves. This has changed the meaning behind taking pictures in positive and negative ways.

There are multiple reasons people share pictures on their personal pages, ranging from the feeling of staying connected in our large and globalized world, to covering up uncertainty about a life event, a major shift in your personal life, or even a person of influence. However, photos have a unique way of shielding others from the full experience of an event. Reframing an experience in a positive light is a good way to block out the negativity of an experience, but it also frames it in a way that’s untrue. A picture can be a good way to blur the negative aspects or feelings of a particular experience, but this type of censorship can have adverse effects on our own realities. We see the positive feedback from strangers, and even if we aren’t fully immersed or convinced the experience is good or something we genuinely enjoyed, the approval is enough. Living to fulfill false idealizations keep us from living for ourselves, and instead replace it with living for an image we created. This can minimize our own uncertainty about decision, and create a shared responsibility between ourselves and our followers. Photography has changed in this aspect because we aren’t just taking images for a scrapbook for ourselves and loved ones to share memories with, they are for everyone.

Sharing an image can influence other perceptions, and through a reverse effect it influences the way you feel about a particular experience. We are essentially creating our own feedback loops through the pictures we share. Any image is only the surface level of an experience, and only the photographer knows the actual story. Pictures have a way of revealing and creating  mystery simultaneously. Where people can look at an image and see one story, only the photographer knows the particulars their own story during the time the image was taken.

 By: Alana Waddill