What happens to people when photography is no longer about static moments but cameras never stop rolling? The New Yorker just published a great piece by Nick Paumgarten that ostensibly begins as a meditation of the GoPro cameras omnipresent in extreme sports… and then becomes about so much more:
When the agony of missing the shot trumps the joy of the experience worth shooting, the adventure athlete (climber, surfer, extreme skier) reveals himself to be something else: a filmmaker, a brand, a vessel for the creation of content. He used to just do the thing—plan the killer trip or trick and then complete it, with panache. Maybe a photographer or film crew tagged along, and afterward there’d be a slide show at community centers and high-school gyms, or an article in a magazine. Now the purpose of the trip or trick is the record of it. Life is footage.
Does making that footage distract us from the moment we are in? Paumgarten thinks so:
A ski trip has become a kind of life-logging vacation. People who’d never film a minute of their ordinary lives deem a day riding chairlifts and creeping along groomed trails to be worthy of wall-to-wall coverage. The sense among many serious skiers is that the cameras have contributed to heedless, or at least distracted, behavior in the backcountry. Any attention given to getting the shot, or posing for it, is attention diverted from the task of staying safe.