I've been trying to think of a way to categorise the photographs people take.
I've started with this.
The photographs people take tend to be either of THINGS or of PEOPLE. I take a lot of photos of THINGS. A lot of people take a lot of photos of PEOPLE.
I try to keep PEOPLE out of my photos as far as possible. But a lot of people always make PEOPLE the focus of their photos. People are very different when it comes to taking photos.
But it'd be better to divide PEOPLE in two, to allow a more accurate classification.
Photos of PEOPLE can be divided into photos of OTHER PEOPLE, generally taken forwards, and photos of oneSELF generally taken backwards. Cameras make selfies really easy these days, and a number of people only ever seem to take photos so long as they appear in them.
In fact it's more complicated than this, so let's split those two green categories again.
Firstly OTHER PEOPLE should be split into photos of people we DON'T KNOW, and who generally just happen to be in shot, and photos of people we DO KNOW, and we placed in the photo deliberately.
Secondly SELF should be split to separate out photos which include OTHER people as well as ourselves. Sometimes this involves holding the camera out and taking a wide shot to get everybody in, and sometimes it involves giving your camera to a kind stranger and getting them to take a photo. Here's me and my mates, snap. Here's me and the family, snap, Here's me and my best mate, snap. Group photos, basically, but one in which the owner of the camera also appears.
And I don't like those category names, so this is much better.
NOBODY is for photos with no people in. This includes abstract arty shots and landscapes.
SOMEBODY is for photos which happen to have people in, but not people we know.
YOU is for photos we take of other people we know, but not with ourselves in shot.
WE is for photos we take of ourselves with other people. This is the group selfie category.
ME is for photos where the main focus is ourself. This is the selfie category.
Now we have a five-point scale for classifying photos according to how social they are. I wonder whereabouts on the scale your photos fall.
Most of my photos are 1s. I like to take pictures of things without people in. Sometimes I will deliberately hang around until people have gone past just to get a photo with no people in. Often, particularly in busy places, that isn't possible and I end up with a photo with people in. But they're never people I know, they're just people who happen to be there, so that's a 2.
I very rarely take 3s. If I'm out with you on a walk somewhere, I will be taking photos of the landscape around me, I will not be taking photos of you. When I'm with family or friends, I'm not taking taking photos of them, I'm enjoying their company. I never take 4s or 5s. I've never been particularly comfortable taking photos of me, with or without anybody else in them. It's not that I'm uncomfortable with how I look, it's just that I don't take photos of people, and that includes me.
But there are a lot of people who take a lot of 3s. Families and friends, mostly, capturing their daily experiences in photos that show their relatives and mates doing stuff. Here's the kids in the park. Here's the baby in her pram. Here's my best friends walking by the seaside. Here's mum and dad wearing silly hats. Here's the lads in the car before a night out. Here's my mates drinking in the pub. Here's the baby in her pram again, but with a slightly different smile.
And there seem to be a lot of people out there who only take 4s and 5s. For them a photo isn't a photo unless they appear in it. Here I am on the sofa. Here I am with the dog. Here I am in the restaurant. Here I am with the family outside a well known tourist attraction. Here I am with the family outside another well known tourist attraction. Here's me and Anisha and Shanice on the bus. Hang on while I preen my hair and jiggle it just right and then take a selfie of me looking cool.
We all have our own priorities, but I wonder if the kinds of photos we take are a reflection of our personalities. Do more sociable people take more 3s, 4s and 5s? If your photos are all 4s and 5s are you a bit self-obsessed? If you like taking 1s without people in, what does that say about your potential introversion? Or perhaps you take photos across all five categories, from landscapes to selfies, and perhaps that makes you balanced and normal.
And I wonder if social media has a major influence on the kinds of photos we now take. Do families and friends cataloguing their lives upload an endless stream of 3s to the cloud? Does social pressure encourage us to share photos showing what a good time we're having, hence lots of 4s. Are we much more narcissistic these days, posting 5s in the hope that others will validate us with lots of likes? Or are you one of those people who only shares architecture, flowers or sunsets, hence lots of 1s, because you reckon true beauty isn't human-shaped?