BARBER: Capturing the entire picture

As we approach the expected September launch of the iPhone 15 series, swirling speculation over the gadget’s new features include one unsurprising focal point: the camera. Word on the street is that the newest model will feature a 48-megapixel ultra wide lens.

Following Apple’s introduction of the touch screen in 1993, FaceTime in 2010, and Siri in 2011, it seems the differentiator for every new model since has been improvements to the camera.

It’s not news that over the last several decades, the ubiquity of smartphones has replaced the need for most people to carry, or even own, a Nikon or a Cannon.

Almost everyone now carries a powerful camera in their pocket, allowing them to snap photos at any time — an impressive societal development that represents immense progress.

However, I argue this constant access to a camera has made taking photos less purposeful.

Gone are the days when families would patiently pose for hours for portraits or meticulously plan holiday card photoshoots weeks in advance. But as we find ourselves in the year 2023, I can’t help but wonder — isn’t everyone sick of selfies?

Families want something to frame, and a group selfie is not exactly mantel-worthy.

Throughout the pocket-camera innovation of the last few decades, one obvious piece of the photography puzzle has been left out — the photographer.

Sure, self-timer exists. But no one realistically wants to find a way to balance their phone, leaving it out in the open for any passerby to steal, only to run back to their group and act natural all within 10 seconds.

The result? Not everyone can be in the picture.

Living near several popular tourist destinations in Boston, I witness this situation unfold often, particularly among families.

Without fail, it is the moms who take on the role of photographer.

As someone who lost her mom to cancer when I was 16, I always intervene. I offer to take a full group shot because I wish I had more family photos with my mom.

Without fail, the moms are ecstatic that I’ve offered. They usually fix their hair, set down their heavy purse filled with their family’s belongings, and excitedly jump in the shot.

I’m a decent photographer. If writing was my first love, photography was a fling that got oddly serious in high school and college. I’m not the best, but I know how to make people look good while abiding by the rule of thirds.

More often than not, when I hand the phone back to mom, she tells me it’s the best photo she’s had taken in years. I don’t think it’s because I am an award-winning photographer. It’s because no one has offered to take her photo in years.

Moms, don’t hesitate to ask someone to help include you. Dads, take the initiative to capture family moments as well. And passersby, offer your assistance when you see someone is out of the picture. You might make someone’s day, and your work might even end up framed above their fireplace.


Rachel Barber is the news editor of Marblehead Weekly News.