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Bad Photos are ‘In’ Now, and That’s Okay

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Blurry Photo

Toay, I want to talk about bad photos. I’m not talking negatively about them either, because bad photos are in fashion right now. I can hear the sound of a million angry perfectionist photographers thrashing at their keyboards, but hear me out.

Digital photography has been in its absolute pomp for decades, with camera systems delivering clean, flawless images. Helped by Adobe Photoshop, we can now create images beyond anything our analog forebears could have dreamt of. Having grown up in this world of photo perfection, it seems Generation Z enjoys photo imperfections.

Our writer Pesala Bandara explores the growing trend of early digital cameras this week and their quirky features, such as timestamps. While the Y2K cameras are seen as a fashion accessory among Generation Z, the youthful enthusiasts enjoy the 2000s grainy picture aesthetic. A camera shop even spoke about the rise in demand for early digital cameras like the Canon Powershot, Nikon Coolpix, and Sony Cybershot.

“I love the ‘lower quality’ and grainy look that my camera gives compared to my iPhone,” says 21-year-old Zoe Nazarian of her Canon S100.

Meanwhile, wedding photographer Asantae Haanstad tells PetaPixel that clients are increasingly asking for blurry photos. It’s not that Haanstad can’t take sharp images. In fact, she’s clearly an accomplished shooter. But, she says her clients like flawed images and they are the ones who are suggesting it to her.

The San Diego Padres have a polaroid lying around their dugout which they use to document each other. And 29-year-old pitcher Joe Musgrove said explicitly that he enjoys how the camera sometimes takes terrible photos.

“Yeah, they are not great pictures, but I like the uniqueness of it,” Musgrove says. “It’s almost an antique kind of look to the photo. It’s not super clear and that makes it pretty unique. You never know what you’re gonna get. Some are really good, some are bad, some turn out really cool.”

Generation Z appears to be driving this trend. The 0.5 selfie trend, which leaves the subject with huge foreheads, super long arms, and tiny bodies, is particularly popular among under-25s.

Ultimately, photography is a communicative medium and an image doesn’t need to be technically perfect to convey the desired message. Executing a “bad photo” purposefully is actually quite a difficult skill and if this is the kind of photo style that people are into right now, then maybe some photographers should consider it. There will always be a home for flawless imagery, but nothing ever stays the same.


This story is part of PetaPixel’s weekly newsletter Clipped Highlights.


What is Clipped Highlights?

Clipped Highlights is a free, curated, weekly newsletter that will be sent out every Wednesday morning and will focus on a few of the most important stories of the previous week and explain why they deserve your attention. This newsletter is different from our daily news brief in that it provides unique insights that can only be found in Clipped Highlights.

In addition to unique takes on the biggest stories in photography, art, and technology, Clipped Highlights will also serve to feature at least one photo series or art project that we think is worth your time to check out. So often in the technology and imaging space we focus on the how and not the what. We think that it’s just as important, if not more so, to look at the art created by photographers around the world as it is to celebrate the new technologies that makes that artwork possible.

If this kind of content sounds like something you’re interested in, we encourage you to subscribe to the free Clipped Highlights newsletter today. You can read this week’s edition right here, no subscription necessary, to make sure it’s something you want in your inbox.

We’ll also make sure to share each edition of Clipped Highlights here on PetaPixel so if you aren’t a fan of email, you won’t be forced to miss out on the weekly newsletter.


Image credits: Photo by Priscilla Du Preez.

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