[URL]http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/05/fashion/thursdaystyles/05photos.html[/URL]\n\nMay 5, 2005\nStop Them Before They Shoot Again\nBy AMY HARMON\n\nTHE baby pictures just kept coming. At least once a month Suzanne Weber\nopened her e-mail to find the same friend had sent a link to as many as\n50 pictures, often including multiple shots of the same child at the\nsame moment at slightly different angles. Finally Ms. Weber, who enjoys\nthe occasional digital baby snapshot as much as anyone, stopped\nresponding, and the friend, taking the hint, stopped sending.\n\nMs. Weber's e-mail, however, is by no means picture-free. Like many\nregular Internet users, she estimates that she will view more than 1,000\n(why stop? it's free) digital pictures this year of friends, family and\ntheir assorted offspring. And she has some unequivocal advice for\nsnap-happy e-mail correspondents everywhere.\n\n"Edit your pictures, people," said Ms. Weber, a writer in Brooklyn whose\npen name is Anita Liberty. She suggests no more than three pictures by\ne-mail, no more than 12 to an online "album," no albums more than twice\na year. (Exceptions may apply for grandparents and best friends.)\n\nMs. Weber is not alone in her plea for restraint. At a time when this\ncountry is indulging in an unparalleled binge of personal picture\ntaking, and some digital photographers find themselves drowning in the\nproduct of their enthusiasm, the notion is dawning that even in a\ndigital realm less may still be more.\n\nSome critics warn that a great photograph's singular power to trigger\nmemory may be at risk. For many people a photograph they have seen a\nthousand times itself becomes the memory. With digital pictures it is\nrare for a single photograph to achieve that kind of status.\n\n"When you have hundreds of pictures where you used to have one, people\nare less likely to ever go back to look at any of them," said Nancy Van\nHouse, a professor in the school of information management and systems\nat the University of California, Berkeley, who studies the social use of\nphotography. "A lot of people are getting to the point in their digital\nphotography now where it's becoming a problem."\n\nTinamarie Fronsdale, who is the keeper of her extended family's photo\nalbums, shot more than 300 pictures after getting her first digital\ncamera last year. She saved some on CD's and printed others. But she has\nnot used the camera in months.\n\n"It's too much," said Ms. Fronsdale, 47, a special education teacher in\nBerkeley. "Looking back at our family pictures from our childhood, I see\nit isn't important to have so many pictures. We do not need to record\nevery moment."\n\nThe idea of passing on hundreds of CD's filled with pictures to her\nnephews was wholly unappealing, Ms. Fronsdale said, when she realized\nthey would never casually pull them out the way she did with an\nold-fashioned photo album when she and her mother were recently\nreminiscing about a family friend.\n\nAMERICA'S amateur photographers produced 28 billion digital pictures\nlast year, 6 billion more than they shot on film, even though only half\nas many own a digital camera, according to the market research firm\nInfoTrends. That does not count pictures deleted before being printed or\ntransferred for storage.\n\nPeople are not just switching formats. They are taking more pictures, 13\nbillion more last year on film and digital combined than in 2000, when\nthe price of digital cameras began to decline. The number of albums\ncompiled using Kodak's popular Ofoto software (now called EasyShare\nGallery) jumped nearly 90 percent in 2004.\n\nIn an era when no moment passes that is not a photo opportunity, pet\nowners compile vast photo archives of their cats and dogs, teenagers\nwielding cellphone cameras take pictures of one another to fight\nboredom, and it is not uncommon to receive dozens of pictures\ndocumenting a baby's first few hours of life.\n\nMany new photographers - and the newly prolific - extol a new category\nthey call ephemera. It might include a picture of an interesting glove\non the sidewalk. Seen through the lens of a camera that never requires\nits owner to pay for film, the mundane takes on new meaning.\n\nThe digital shooting spree is only expected to accelerate as a growing\nnumber of camera-phone shutterbugs join the ranks of those reveling in\npictures immediately available and easily shared. Many digital picture\nenthusiasts say the medium has taken on a new currency as a running\ndocument of everyday life. Others say that even if they never look at a\npicture, just the experience of taking it engages them with a scene in a\nmore interesting way.\n\nMost people save all of their pictures, no matter how blurry or\nunremarkable. Many store them with the file names automatically assigned\nby their cameras, like "DSC31.jpg." Others develop complex\nclassification to take the place of shoeboxes or an envelope with "Grand\nCanyon, 2003" scrawled across it.\n\nVan Swearingen, an avid gar-dener in Greenwich Village, has sorted the\n6,000 flower pictures he has amassed in three years into seasonal\nsubfolders on his computer. Within them are folders labeled with the\ndate and within those are other folders of the pictures he has cropped\nand color-corrected to his liking.\n\nBut when he was looking for a particular image of a lotus the other day,\nit took him half an hour sifting through computer files. And the\nhundreds of pictures he exchanges daily with other garden hobbyists has\nmade him look at his own with a jaundiced eye.\n\n"The constant stream of images somewhat cheapens the medium for me," Mr.\nSwearingen, 43, said. "It becomes almost too immediate."\n\nIt is partly the pleasure of that immediacy that propels people to take\nall those pictures. Many digital photographers, including Mr.\nSwearingen, describe the immediate gratification as addictive.\n\nBut Jim Lewis, a novelist who wrote an opinion article for Wired\nmagazine titled "Memory Overload," suggests it is the hollowness of the\ngratification that fuels the addiction.\n\n"You take the picture to capture the memory of being there, but if you\ntake the picture, you aren't really there," Mr. Lewis said by telephone.\n"You're trying to satisfy a hunger which is actually being created by\nthe activity."\n\nIn his article Mr. Lewis compared mushrooming digital photography to a\nmap of the world that grows in detail "until every point in reality has\na counterpoint on paper, the twist being that such a map is at once\nideally accurate and entirely useless, since it's the same size as the\nthing it's meant to represent."\n\nMICHAEL KUKER, 31, does not see a problem with that. He has deposited\n9,946 images on his hard drive since buying a digital camera two years\nago. The no-risk nature of the technology, he said, has emboldened him\nto express himself. He shot 200 pictures of a bridge in Redding, Calif.,\nand saved them all.\n\n"Once it hits my computer, it stays, even if I don't like it," Mr. Kuker\nsaid. "In a historical context, 20 to 30 years down the road, someone\nelse might find it interesting."\n\nOr even tomorrow. Like many protophotographers, Mr. Kuker has been\ninspired to take more pictures to attract an audience online. He is a\nmember of Flickr, a photography Web site ([URL="http://www.flickr.com"]www.flickr.com[/URL]), where half a\nmillion people have plunked 8.2 million pictures since it opened for\nbusiness last summer.\n\nCaterina Fake, Flickr's founder, argues that people just have to get\nused to a new way of interacting with photographs. The digital deluge\nmay make it harder for single images to stand out of the dense crowd,\nbut it also offers greater intimacy with friends and family and a new\nmeans of communication among strangers.\n\n"The nature of photography now is it's in motion," said Ms. Fake. "It\ndoesn't stop time anymore, and maybe that's a loss. But there's a kind\nof beauty to that, too."\n\nAdam Seifer, the founder of another photo-sharing site, [URL="http://www.fotolog.net"]www.fotolog.net[/URL],\nsaid the glut of pictures is a problem only when they are channeled to\nthe wrong audience. Mr. Seifer, who takes a picture of every meal he\neats, concedes that his mother-in-law might not be interested in those\npictures. "It becomes sort of the new spam," he said.\n\nBut Mr. Seifer's food log receives 15,000 visits a week from people who\nare apparently interested. If photographers save the baby pictures for\ntheir mothers-in-law, Mr. Seifer argues, and store the rest in a central\nlocation where others can choose to view them or not, no one would\nsuffer from overload.\n\nStill, even in the enthusiast bastion of online photo sharers, there are\nsigns of paring down.\n\n"I'm thinking of going on an image diet," Frederick Redden, 52, of\nStuart, Fla., wrote on a Flickr discussion board. His plan to delete\nsome of the 250 pictures he had put up, based on unpopularity, was met\nwith cries of disapproval.\n\nOne respondent wrote, "If I did that, I'd have to delete all of my\npictures!"