But some observers think Americans' willingness to discard digital images is a sign that photos are becoming less precious.And aside from questions of longevity and our future history, digital technology means manipulation isn't just for Joe Stalin anymore:
"Taking pictures used to be an event of sorts,'' said von Glasenapp, the film retailer. "Now they have camera phones -- they e-mail pictures, look at them once and trash them. The image is not what it used to be. The value of the image is no longer what it was."
The rise of digital photography also raises questions about whether people will save these images for future generations, the same way they usually keep old prints.
But never has it been so easy for so many people to alter a photograph. . . .I still say that while digital is nice, it's a far different art than traditional film. Plus, spending hours at my printer has never felt as good as the hours I spent in a darkroom in high school. It is sad that most of my photographed life over the past few years is on this computer and not in a more user-friendly photo album - which, like the darkroom, is just a more comfortable medium.
[W]hich raises questions of what images we can trust.
"People have to be skeptical,'' said Dennis Dunleavy, who runs the photojournalism program at San Jose State University and wrote his dissertation on the impact of digital photography. "It is a question of skepticism. It is a question of education. It is a question of not allowing people to be gullible."
But Dunleavy said the notion that the "camera never lies" has always been a myth. Photographers, he pointed out, have always presented just one, narrow slice of reality, while leaving the rest outside the viewfinder.
"As soon as I pick up a camera, I am editing my reality," he said.