I hadn’t really thought about it in too much detail until this time last week when I was approached by Esther Addley, at The Guardian, and asked if I would like to take part in a piece she was writing about how we have taken fewer, and probably different, photos over the past year. Thinking about what I would say prior to us then chatting on the phone made me really realise that lockdown changed the photos I shared, and I had definitely taken fewer photos over the last year.
There are 69,921 photos on my phone. And possibly a similar number on various memory cards, my laptop, and the external hard drive. In 2019, according to my phone, I took 16,480 photos and yet in 2020 I only took 10,975. Of those that were shared to Instagram there were just over 200 in 2020, closer to 300 in 2019. And whilst 200 does still sound like an awful lot I was definitely more mindful of the photos I shared in lockdown, for a number of reasons.
Firstly, there was less to really share. For weeks none of us were leaving the house and there are only so many photos of the TV, the garden, or a cup of tea that you can share after a couple of weeks. Our weekends prior to the pandemic were peppered with days out to National Trust properties, walks on the beach or an occasional day trip to France so it stood to reason that my photos online would change because all of those things were, and still are, off. There were no real days out, family barbecues, spontaneous afternoons. You know, all the things I love doing and talking about, especially on Instagram stories!
Secondly, I wanted to be more meaningful in my postings. I was very conscious that we were all living different experiences during lockdown and if I was going to interrupt somebody’s day by appearing on their timeline I wanted it to be funny, thought provoking or, I hoped, helpful. I was very aware, right from the start of the pandemic that my year was going to be different from many others. I wasn’t home educating, I didnt have to juggle a 9 – 5 job, I had a few savings, a garden to sit in, my own laptop and stable wifi. As the weeks unfolded and I realised that put in a very small percentage of the population I had never been more accutely aware of my privilege and I somehow wanted to acknowledge that. And if I wasn’t acknowledging it publicly I was certainly making sure I was privately with what I was posting. Suddenly the flippant photo of a £30 takeaway on a Friday night didn’t feel appropriate anymore when more people than ever were struggling to put food on the table for their families. Lazing in the garden shots when many were sharing flats with only a balcony felt very “look at me”.
Even sharing photographs of our newly arrived grand daughter made me think twice. A few of my followers were looking forward to becoming grandparents at the same time, yet they didn’t live just half an hour away like we do so were having to wait for that first precious meeting. I didn’t want to make people feel like they were missing out even more because I was sharing pictures every five minutes.
Now that things are mostly opening up again I am going to focus on the lessons I learned over the last year and whilst I will start to share more pictures from National Trust properties and chips on the beach, I am hoping they might be in a more meaningful way.