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Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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EditorialsUp Front 03/16

Up Front 03/16

No so long ago I came across an old black and white photograph of my brother filling a car with petrol. It was a grey day and he was wearing what was probably a mid-length brown working coat. He was doing it because part of the family business was a filling station where we all took turns to work when we were growing up. It was our first job, and although it was a pretty thatched hut in the middle of a car park, my lasting memory is that it was very cold sitting there all day waiting for customers to turn up looking for petrol. Mind you, people weren’t in so much of a hurry in those days and occasionally we would check their oil and water and even pump up their tyres before sending them on their way—an old fashioned service that is now long gone. Quite often we would be asked to pose outside the hut for passers-by who wanted to photograph such a ‘cute’ thatched building. We all became nameless faces in strangers’ photographs. I was reminded of this last week when I popped my head out of the window of a small apartment in Venice. Within a couple of minutes a dozen tourists in passing gondolas had snapped my photograph and waved as they happily added yet another stranger’s face to their holiday memories. Once upon a time the tradition would be to look for interesting postcards, either to keep or to send to friends and relatives—the fact that they arrived weeks after we returned was half the fun. Now we just take millions of photographs and these days the most common item for sale in St Mark’s Square is a selfie stick. I tried to work out how many photos were taken in Venice. Apparently an average of 60,000 people visit the city on any given day. If each one took just 50 digital photographs on either their smart phones or their equally smart cameras, that would amount to 3 million photographs a day—the annual figure is huge, and that’s just one small city. Just half the estimate is still a staggering amount. Venice is a beautiful city and like most people I treasure the photographic memories that I will hopefully shuffle through in later years, but the sheer volume just makes me appreciate, even more, that little bit of extra effort and expertise taken by professional photographers.

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