Brendan Shick | Freelance Film, Broadcast, & Digital Media

4 Must Watch Director’s Commentaries – Even if You’re Not a Film Geek

4 Must Watch Director's Commentaries - Even if You're Not a Film Geek

4 Director's Commentaries for any sensibility or taste! At least one of these will appeal to you...
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Learning the Pitfalls of HFR

Learn the Pitfalls of HFR

Don't make the mistake of paying more for a lower quality theater experience. Here's a look at what HFR really does to your image straight from a cinematographer's mouth...errr...pen...err...whatever.
Baseball Broadcasts: Behind the Scenes

Broadcasting Baseball

Ever wonder how the game gets from the field to your television set? We're sharing a behind-the-scenes look.

“Photo Album:” What It Used to Mean

Nov 22 2011 by Brendan Shick Add Your Thoughts

If you’re older than 20 years old, you can probably sympathize with me, whether you realize it or not. Remember when you used to visit relatives that you hadn’t seen for a year, held a family reunion, attended a church picnic, or got invited over for dinner with a friend of the family that you hadn’t visited in a while?

All of these are vastly different experiences now than they were in the 90s. It used to be that one of, if not the only, central event of these activities was sitting down at a table and looking through someone’s photo album.

Your cousin had a dance recital and you hadn’t been there to see it. Better take a look while you’re in town.

A friend from church got back from a trip to Germany two weeks ago. Take a seat at the picnic table beside them as they narrate through the trip’s photo book.

Your family friends had a son who moved halfway across the country. Take a seat at the table while dinner is cooking and dad shows you the family photo album revealing how much he’s grown.


There was always a physical photo album, complete with real pages to turn, at all these events. Someone who was there, or was otherwise connected to the subject was always present to recount the events surrounding the snapshot. There was an open dialogue and sense of reminiscing that took place between the two parties.

When was the late time you remember that happening? Digital photography has completely changed the game. For the most part, no more printed photos – and certainly not an entire album full. If you’re like me, you just asked yourself, “Surely people still show me their digital photos, right?”

Actually, you’re probably wrong. I was. Reflecting on things, I can’t really recall the last time someone sat down and showed me their trip to Australia on their laptop either. It happened for a few years, but never anymore.

Why? Because I saw those pictures on Facebook – before they even boarded the plane back to the States!

No one thinks to show me photos of my cousin’s dance recital when I come visit – if I cared, I already saw them 5 months ago. My friend’s son who lives in Montana now? I’m not even friends with him on Facebook, but his parents were tagged in his album (or vis versa) so I know what he looks like now, what job he has, or whatever it is that the pre-dinner photo album was otherwise going to tell me. Even that friend who doesn’t have Facebook at all – they’ve probably already emailed me that beautiful digital photo they took of the Swiss Alps that everyone just has to see.


So today when you see these people, there’s nothing left to talk about – at least nothing revolving around the actual photographs. You already commented on how beautiful that cruise they took was.

Granted you did it in one sentence, without actually even speaking to the person, but you did it and now it’s old news. If they posted it online, they don’t even expect you to think differently. The only time you look at photos is when you visit Grandma’s house or when you’re lucky enough to see someone’s cruise photos before they get a chance to post them.

Photography used to be a form of push media. Fred was going to show you slides of his camping trip in his backyard whether you liked it or not. Today, people are less pushy because, if you care, you’ve already looked online.

Thus, photography has become mostly an online pull medium. Probably a good thing if you could care less about Fred’s self-promoted, yet lackluster, sense of adventure – just skip it. However, if you really reminisce, you’ll probably realize that you truly miss some of those good-old, in-depth conversations you used to have around the photo album.

Brendan Shick

Brendan Shick is a freelance DP, gaffer, and sports broadcaster serving primarily the Chicago, IL; Pittsburgh, PA; Grand Rapids, MI; and Fort Wayne, IN, regions. You can find out more by following this blog, his recent work on Vimeo, or by connecting with him on Twitter or LinkedIn. Brendan is also an occasional contributor to the Project Updates feed for one of his most recent films, To Turn Back Time.

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