I have rarely been moved to be grateful for the plague of smartphones that infects so much of Taiwan’s society, but I’m kind of happy with it now. We’ve been here for 10 days, and millions of pixels have been used to capture my image in all manners of settings. But I recall decades past when people used film, and were “oh – so – careful” not to waste any on a poor shot. Especially when a group photo was being taken. Line everybody up, set the camera (either a 35 mm SLR or, if really formal, a box camera on a tripod, complete with black cloth), set the f-stop, the exposure time, the film speed and on and on. All the time people were squinting into the sun or trying to avoid their hair blowing into their eyes.
The groups I’ve joined, and been photographed with, over the past week or so have included the college staff, the graduating seniors, the participants in college worship, people in two church services I attended last Sunday, people gathered to say goodbye to a departing professor, and today someone’s relatives visiting from North America.
Because there are so many smartphones around, and because it costs nothing to take one or even several photos, there’s no need to worry about getting the shot, “just right”, because you can take 6 or 7 and discard those that don’t look exactly how you want them to. I’ve learned, though, to stand still with a frozen smile on my face.
I really should enjoy it, though. In 4 days I’ll board the plane headed back to the USA, where NOBODY takes my picture.
David Alexander now resides in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.