Today, I want to talk about bad photos. I’m not talking negatively about them either, because bad photos are in fashion right now. I can hear the sound of a million angry perfectionist photographers thrashing at their keyboards, but hear me out.
Digital photography has been in its absolute pomp for decades, with camera systems delivering clean, flawless images. Helped by Adobe Photoshop, we can now create images beyond anything our analog forebears could have dreamt of. Having grown up in this world of photo perfection, it seems Generation Z enjoys photo imperfections.
Our writer Pesala Bandara explores the growing trend of early digital cameras this week and their quirky features, such as timestamps. While the Y2K cameras are seen as a fashion accessory among Generation Z, the youthful enthusiasts enjoy the 2000s grainy picture aesthetic. A camera shop even spoke about the rise in demand for early digital cameras like the Canon Powershot, Nikon Coolpix, and Sony Cybershot.
“I love the ‘lower quality’ and grainy look that my camera gives compared to my iPhone,” says 21-year-old Zoe Nazarian of her Canon S100.
Meanwhile, wedding photographer Asantae Haanstad tells PetaPixel that clients are increasingly asking for blurry photos. It’s not that Haanstad can’t take sharp images. In fact, she’s clearly an accomplished shooter. But, she says her clients like flawed images and they are the ones who are suggesting it to her.
The San Diego Padres have a polaroid lying around their dugout which they use to document each other. And 29-year-old pitcher Joe Musgrove said explicitly that he enjoys how the camera sometimes takes terrible photos.
“Yeah, they are not great pictures, but I like the uniqueness of it,” Musgrove says. “It’s almost an antique kind of look to the photo. It’s not super clear and that makes it pretty unique. You never know what you’re gonna get. Some are really good, some are bad, some turn out really cool.”
Generation Z appears to be driving this trend. The 0.5 selfie trend, which leaves the subject with huge foreheads, super long arms, and tiny bodies, is particularly popular among under-25s.
Ultimately, photography is a communicative medium and an image doesn’t need to be technically perfect to convey the desired message. Executing a “bad photo” purposefully is actually quite a difficult skill and if this is the kind of photo style that people are into right now, then maybe some photographers should consider it. There will always be a home for flawless imagery, but nothing ever stays the same.
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Image credits: Photo by Priscilla Du Preez.