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Late Greats

Squash Hashanah

I make no claim to being a photographer, but my great-grandfather was one by trade. It seems to me there have been two kinds of memorable pictures taken since the invention of picture-taking: those given much thought prior to execution, and those that came about because some guy had a camera. And just about every guy has a camera these days, outside of self-professed Luddites and some prisoners. The second part of the photography equation used to involve darkness and chemicals, but with the advent of limitless digital storage this necessity is gone. Now, whether it’s an old glass plate or an iPhone snap, it comes down to if anyone does anything with it after. In this sense my father has been as responsible for his grandfather’s notoriety as was the man himself, by virtue of getting his images out there. There are no doubt countless examples (now multiplying daily and exponentially) of magnificent photographs that nobody will ever see. But this isn’t unusual, and can be said for a lot of things.

The three snaps above, while not technically impressive, are relevant because they were taken with my new cell phone in late August and early September. Sequentially, they are of California, Nevada (Lake Tahoe), and New York (Brooklyn). If part of who we are can be ascertained from where we’ve been, then this new technology is of some worth even if we’re just flicking through our phone with a finger. Don’t ask me to break down what it’s worth though; I personally think it’s an example of a little too much all moving a little too fast.

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