Back in the days when photography used actual film that cost money to buy and even more to develop, it was risky business handing your camera to a kid. To the juvenile eye, almost anything seems like a suitable target for a photo. My family has boxes of these kid's-eye views that haven't been recycled. Who knows, they may someday provide important historical glimpses into the wallpaper and floor tiles of a bygone age.Now that it's possible to point and shoot hundreds of images onto the average memory card and then dump a hundred thousand onto a computer drive, it's a bit like we've all reverted to a bedazzled childhood, shooting even trivial events from every imaginable angle. Just combing through the photos from the last vacation can take longer than the vacation itself. Wouldn't it be cool to have a filter on your camera that tossed out the trivial and focused on the special people, places and moments in life?The state's Division of Travel and Tourism Development may have come up with the next best thing. They are once again staging a summer photography contest, inviting residents and visitors to make the act of taking a photo into a meaningful statement. The "filter" is a sign bearing four words: "I Love It Here." (Click here for details.)Here's how it works: When you decide to include this sign in a photograph, you are more likely to think about what you are pointing at and shooting. You'll take time to ponder what it is that you love about a place, maybe even drive out to that place just to take the photo. Once there, you'll set up your shot with a little more care. It might inspire you to not only take a photo of the kids, but to get in the shot yourself. Such a pause to reflect can turn an ordinary snapshot into a keepsake, an enduring bookmark in the pages of your life that tells a lot about you to future generations.It's a bit like an artist putting a signature on a painting as a final sign of pride, and the results are like a well-executed scrapbook of life and fun featuring the grand extended family of the Granite State. The contest starts May 30, so get ready to rumble.Maybe it's an approach that could be useful in other areas of expression.After all, giving out opinions was once a special occasion. You'd raise your hand in class when you had a good thought. Social encounters or moments around the water cooler would punctuate your day with an excuse to share something that was on your mind and, once in a blue moon, someone would actually ask you for an opinion or some advice. Now, half-formed, unsought, cynical and even dangerous opinions shower onto the digital networks like raindrops in a vast river. Wouldn't it be useful to have a sign that says, "I Really Believe" this, so you could mark the ones that you actually meant to say? Then people could ignore the majority of impulse comments and just look for the ones that someone took the time to really think over.I guess coming up with that kind of filter is not in the job description of the NH DTTD so maybe it's something for Commissioner Van McLeod and his plucky, resourceful and vital Department of Cultural Resources to start working on for the coming year. In fact, "I Really Believe" it is.
This article appears in the June 2011 issue of New Hampshire Magazine