"L'Amore al tempo dei selfie" by Giulio D'Ercole
"At times of social media when what we do feel has a value only when shared with the digital community, even kisses must be photographed..... rather than enjoyed!"
Giulio, tell us about this photo...
I took this photo some years back as I was walking through Villa Borghese, a gorgeous park in Rome, Italy which once belonged to the Borghese noble family. In the park there is a small lake where people can rent small boats, like the one in the photo, to enjoy a different experience in the middle of a metropolis.
Why did this scene attract your attention?
Well, it was quite funny, actually a bit weird, to see a young couple, in a very romantic setting, taking a photo of themselves while kissing. It was almost like, for them, it was more important to freeze the moment with a picture rather than actually experiencing, living, and savouring the moment with no distractions.
What are your thoughts on the effect of selfies on photography and also in taking away from our enjoyment of experiences?
Today, we seem to be guided and compelled to document every moment of our life in this ever-pervasive social media system. The youth especially, are losing the pleasure of experiencing a life moment per sè, living it to the fullest as it happens. Memories are not left to sediment in our heart and soul, but are immediately frozen to be shared with others, possibly with millions of others – those people who on the one hand don't really care and on the other hand are ready to jump to the next image after a fraction of a second. I believe it’s a sign of an extreme personal and generational insecurity that needs and looks for the approval of an unknown public in order to find some false sense of identity in our society.
When do you think we should put the camera down and just enjoy the moment? How do we find the right balance as it is so easy to just keep taking photographs and miss the real experience.
I think we should learn a new kind of visual ecology, where less is more and where there is a place and a time for everything. I mean, if my pizza gets cold or my ice cream melts while I am taking a photo to be sent via Instagram to God knows who, well I should probably understand that the pizza tastes better when eaten warm and having ice cream dropping on my fingers is not that cool.
What do you think about people taking photos ‘for the gram’ and going to ‘instagrammable’ spots?
They are victim of the mainstream way of thinking. They are not experiencing an event, a memorable day, or a terrific place. They are actually copycatting the image, the expressions, and even the moods they have seen on other peoples’ faces… they do not see the Big Brother Truman Show they belong to.
What is your advice to photographers who are just building their presence on social media?
It depends on what the photographer’s final goal is. For sure they cannot avoid having a presence in the market without social media and I am pretty sure Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Bernini were also very good at marketing themselves. Saying that, if a photographer wants to develop her/his own style and art, she/he should be very aware that social media is only a part of the process, not the whole process - it’s a container, not the content.