capturing assets,  conference,  media literacy,  mobile,  timeless

The guilt every photographer feels

Photographer guilt stems from the disarray of our photographic collections on various devices and  lack of legacy archive planning.

Back in the day when we used film and had our photographs developed and printed, there were two things that were different from today’s digital image world.

We were more careful about the images we captured because there was stock and production to pay for.

We could put our hands on our proudest images because we’d move them from the developer’s envelope into photo albums and scrapbooks.

Today, we snap more images. They’re kept on different places: phones, cameras, storage cards and drives, hard drives, laptops and in the cloud. It’s harder to surface the gems from this sea of images.

The guilt is that feeling of “one day I’m going to sort this and compile my pool of desert island photographs. The ones I want to leave my children which will help them remember the story of their father’s life.”

So why haven’t already done this?

stray cat in Istanbul
Stray cat at doner kebab stall in Istanbul May 2013. Photo by @digitalst

First written and published by Gareth Morlais on 4 June 2013.


  • Katrina Kirkwood

    Is this the guilt? It’s not mine.
    Mine is the guilt of taking photographs at all.
    Unless I’m in a tourist spot or rural wilderness, I’ve been accosted every time I’ve got out my camera to shoot a scene. “Why are you taking photos?” “Who/what are you taking?” Or, more usually, “Go away and pack that camera up.” (Put more forcefully and rudely, though.)
    And that’s in the UK, where I know I’m doing nothing illegal or wrong. So I know I shouldn’t feel guilty, but I am fearful, so I pack the camera away and slink off, my work impoverished. Maybe the guilt is among the people drifting the streets, afraid of what whoever may do to their lives through photography.

    • Gareth Morlais

      Good point. Thanks Katrina.
      In the case where the objector isn’t the subject of the photo, I’d listen to concerns, then take a view, balancing sensitivities against the wider public interest. If I was going into an arena where there’s a real public interest and potential resistance by authorities, there are many options open to explore with care. Sometimes it boils down to taking a less-professional-looking camera.

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