Almost ten years ago in June of 2007, human evolution changed forever. The upright erect Homo sapiens, the species that is you, began to evolve to a new, but subtle morphological variation in which the human neck began to elongate and curve downward. This evolutionary adaptation includes a strengthening of muscles at the back of the neck in order to accommodate the human head tilting forward at a 30° angle, on average 74 times a day for up to seven hours a day, to interact with a transformational advancement in human consciousness known as the iPhone (and soon to follow knock-offs). Since we touch our phone an average of 2,617 times a day, soon our fingertips will evolve the touch capabilities of ET himself.
The year 2007 also marked the beginning of the end of my career as a professional botanical photographer, because starting in June of 2007, in a short time, my thousands of dollars of camera equipment was replaced by a camera on the phone in my pocket. Everyone became a photographer. I’m a creature of habit and tradition, so I continue to dutifully haul 25 lbs. or more of camera equipment on my back everywhere I go, on every hike. When I come upon something to photograph, I lay my heavy camera equipment on the ground, pull my iPhone from my pocket and take photographs or high quality movies clips.
Human evolution, being what it is, something unexpected happened. In a short period of time, millions more people became interested in photography, and improving their photographs, moving up from the cell phone camera to the broader possibilities of a digital SLR camera, sitting on a tripod capturing the beauty of nature with high quality optical lenses. The ubiquitous phone camera actually stimulated much wider interest in traditional photography, increasing the quantity and quality of photography in general. This weekend I abandoned my iPhone and shot the accompanying photo of the Ozark endemic, yellow coneflower (Echinacea paradoxa) with my big ‘ol camera on a tripod.
What goes around comes around. The same trend is seen in books. In 2016 digital books sales declined by 17%, while the sale of high quality books with tactile beauty increased. If you’re really cool, you don’t waste time with mp3 music files, you buy vinyl albums. This week what’s coming around to Eureka Springs is the Mid-America Photography Symposium (May 19-21) with a fabulous lineup of photo seminars from international famous photographers. You’ll see more people with tripods than iPhones on the streets this coming weekend. See: www.mapsym.org.