Pretty as a picture


What an exciting era it is for consumers’ photos, because photos have evolved so much over the years. This post is not about the fancy ultra-zooming professional cameras used in photo-shoots and classes. This post is about the easily used mass produced products which only require a simple click of a button. Use may be simple, but the products themselves have evolved more than we acknowledge.

Some of us occasionally developed or printed photos as kids. One of my first film cameras during childhood was made of a translucent pink plastic. The mechanical insides of the machine were fascinatingly visible. Another childhood camera was a black plastic box that made a loud ‘click’ noise every time a picture was taken. There was a delay between taking each photo because I had to wind a small knob until it clicked into place before taking each photo. The cameras didn’t zoom in on anything distant. Any take of the flying fox experience would have depicted us as little dots scattered on a background of green. Ants would have looked bigger. I did what I could, but the single button camera required much more than a point and shoot. Every photo I took was valued as part of a limited supply.  

Source: Photo Wiki

Even accessing and viewing the captured photos became a process. Of course we had to take the negatives to the shops to pay someone else to develop the photos. An album was bought to preserve cardboard copies which could get ruined if we were not careful. These prized possessions were taken care of and never taken for granted. Oh how times have changed.


Photo taking was reserved for special events because it was too much effort to capture the little things in everyday life.  Holidays and parties are the main subjects of young Mel’s photo collection. Disneyland, Christmas, and other main events were covered. That was the norm. It was a given. This assumption may seem obvious, but the reality now is dramatically different.  

The only time my photo was available to thousands of people was in a Barbie magazine. My parents sent in a little snapshot of little Mel with the aged-grey snow-white-coloured family cat. This was such a small little spot in the limelight. The benefit was not the assumption that many people would remember the image. The benefit was simply that a picture of me had been distributed to many people. Image distribution on that scale felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity. Oh how that would change in time…

Picture: Young Mel in the 90s.

My first camera phone was a Roxy Boost Nokia model. Resolution was less than a megapixel and gave a blurry abstract impression of scenery. So a beach would show as a blurry patch of blue and a blurry blob of yellow. I never got seriously into technical photography enough at advance beyond the basic point-and-shoot. Photography is definitely a skill worth learning. It shall be added to my bucket list.

Photo: On of the few my parents took on my first day at Southern Cross University. I was so unaccustomed to photo-taking that I never bothered with it during the entire semester.


The improvements are exciting. The iPhone 4 was a great investment as it takes 8 megapixel photos. Pictures look clear, focused, and simple to take. The same way Harriet the Spy captured life in a notebook; similar spontaneous moments are easily kept on an iPhone. All of us can feel like professionals with these phones. It is difficult to take that for granted when these luxuries just were not accessible a decade ago.  


Picture: Mel taking pictures from an iPhone 4 in its wallet from Forever New.


Some companies have cashed in on the snap app-y digital world of photo edits and sharing. We no longer need to post a cardboard photograph to a publication in the hopes that they might accept it! Now it’s a whole new world of Instagram, Photoshop, Photobooth, Flickr, Pic Collage app, and heaps more. This is all great fun sharing life so much more easily!

The technology has been around for long enough for us to accept it as a normal part of everyday life. It almost feels duh obvious noting camera-phones. Many of us don’t think twice before Tweeting an image. But it is informatively lovely to be reminded of where these practices all began…

Photo: An edited image of a ceiling taken with Apple’s iPad Photobooth.

What else is on offer? Why just make a photo app when you can customise a camera too?  Who would have thought the Instagram app would transform into an actual camera?  The Polaroid Instant Digital Camera sounds exciting too.  With those in mind, the big question is: what’s next?





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