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Photo Filter Generation

Back when I was in university, like, 4-5 years ago, I was so against photo filtering or over-editing. I might sound overrate originality but I thought that people who applied too much filter simply didn’t take good picture. You know, just like girls who apply too much make up on their face just because the society think that their lips should be redder, their cheeks should be pinker, their eyelashes should be bolder and etc.

Not that I hated the photographs. I actually liked the unreal slash unusual slash ‘hipstery’ look of photographs. Before Instagram was invented, I took pictures with lomography camera and slide film and got it x-processed. I enjoyed the beauty of surprise. I remembered a nice quote about film photography from one of my favorite analog photographers, “Shooting with film camera is like a lottery. You’ll probably win, you’ll probably lose. With digital camera? You’ll never lose, but you’ll never really win.”

Yudi, Ayu, Ai, Sari, Nana Keraton

Malioboro Pasar Beringharjo

I shooted with lomography camera because I appreciate the imperfectness. The camera’s imperfectness. Mine as well.

After I graduated and moved to Balikpapan, I barely used my film or lomography camera. It’s hard to find place for film processing then get it scanned. I became a corporate slave and just like everyone, I got new mobile phone with nice camera, I created Instagram account, Path account, and installed application for photo filtering and editing. I started to get used to the filtered (and over-filtered) photographs.

I’m now not that much against over-editing photographs anymore although I still never bother to edit pictures I took with my digital SLR. I still never think about installing Adobe Lightroom although I don’t use darkroom anymore. I apply filters in Instagram although I never call it photography. I simply care less and less about such thing and think about more important things like how to save and buy a house.

Until one day I talked with Emil Zola Farkhan, a guy I knew from LFM who takes great film photographs. He said, “Our eyes now are really used to those impossibly contrast photos right?” Yes. Back a couple of years ago, only people who were geeky enough cared to produce such photos. Now everybody seems to filter their photos.

Do you ever think about it? How we all are getting used to dramatic slash unrealistic photographs? How people nowadays get hardly-satisfied by the originals. How people on Instagram put so much effort to make the sea dreamy and less blue or even too blue. How people want to make the autumn leaves oranger than how they naturally look.  How people try to make 2000s moments like 1970s. How people want to make their food looks better and more appetizing rather than really taste it.

Even scarier for me is the issue of how girls and the selfie syndrome. How girls want to look white and flawless (and boring). How the photo apps are now facilitating them to be whiter, their zits to be removed, their cheeks to be skinny, their eyes to be larger or their lips to be (ridiculously) peach!

Photo filter and its massive use in social media, I think, change the way people see little by little. People try to be as close as possible to what society thinks things should be instead of accepting the truth that some girls come with the zits or the beach might not look that good when it’s cloudy. I’m afraid that my daughter and or grand daughter will be a part of photo filter generation who completely lose the faith in other people their photographs. I’m afraid that later, when they close their eyes they would see the faded blue sea with red signature of leakage effect instead of the real blue sea with unlimited horizon, just because they are born in photo filter generation.

Let’s not hope so.

Filed under: Thoughts


Puty Puar. F/28. Indonesian. Working at home mom, blogger, illustrator, book author & enthusiast. Also a small business owner. Contact her through puti [dot] karina [dot] puar [at] gmail [dot] com.

1 Comment

  1. Santosh says

    I agree with what you have written. For me, photographs feel less special these days.

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