Say “cheese!” or “look at the little bird”… Today, these expressions seem very archaic. Now we all have digital cameras, but when we were children we all had a throw away camera. And how proud we were with our little flash, with the 36 pictures or with our submersible cameras! Then you had to wait about four days to have your pictures developed, put a cross if you preferred them in shiny or matte finish, double copies and finally you had them in your hands. It was a kind of magic ritual.
A rainy winter afternoon, you decide to organize those piles of printed photos that you have accumulated in various folders and albums. You put them all on the floor and organize them by subject and each one awakes in you a special feeling or reminds you of a person, place or past time. You kept the negatives just in case you needed more copies. Do you remember?
The best photos are those taken by children: they feel very happy because they suddenly feel very responsible and capable of carrying out this task. But then you see the photos and the child has turned into a type of samurai warrior because he’s cut half of your head off, or the photo is tilted and out of focus or even caught the exact moment in which you adjusted your panties! A picture is not just an image, it also tells a story. Maybe one day you’ll have to explain to the coming generations how the old photographic process was carried out.
We all still take bad pictures, but it doesn’t matter now because thanks to programs like Photoshop, we can do miracles. We have created a new art: the art of re-touching photos. Now we only print photos for those special occasions because the tradition and the charm of developing them has all been but lost. If you look at the tourists, you’ll realize that they don’t look at what they photograph: that is, they see the beautiful facade of the Casa Batllò in Barcelona, look through the lens, click the shutter and keep on walking. They rarely stop to contemplate the whole picture.
Although today the way of taking pictures is a little more robotic, people can appreciate photojournalism and its great photographers throughout history. Whether they are naked scenes, street scenes, landscapes, portraits, details, black and white or colour pictures, with a Polaroid or with a digital camera, the chances to experiment with your creativity are endless. And what a nice feeling when someone likes your photo! Robert Capa used to say “If your photo is not good is because you’re not close enough.” A picture is especially good when it stirs emotions.
As we all take photos, anywhere and at any time, perhaps the magic lies in being original. If you miss the nostalgic dimension of photography, just say: look at the little bird!
Barcelona may be an ideal spot to take pictures. The Catalan capital is an outdoor, colourful museum. Enjoy the Mediterranean Sea, Las Ramblas and take as many pictures as you can! And while you are there, why not rent apartments in Barcelona to find the best accommodation.