I have a very love-hate relationship with technology, and as such I am very rarely excited by new gadgets and gizmos, but I have finally found something that really gets my pulse racing. Meet Autographer, the wearable camera which automatically takes up to 2,000 photographs a day without the wearer having to do a thing.
This super-intelligent device uses miniature sensors to detect the perfect moment to snap an image, so you won’t be left with hundreds of tedious images of another commuter’s back on the train. It also has a GPS unit so you can keep track of precisely where all the action happened, and Bluetooth to enable easy sharing on smartphones. That way, if you capture a killer image as you go about your day, showing it off to your friends is a breeze. The custom-built lens is also designed to resemble the human field of vision, with low-light capability for photos from the moment you get up to the time you fall into bed.
I am all for naturalistic photography, and I think that this can be especially brilliant for journalism. I think there is often too much focus on capturing THE image of a natural disaster or a breaking news event, but this quite literally takes the power out of your hands. It leaves the journalist free to explore without constantly thinking about how to frame a shot or what to focus on. You see everything the journalist sees, and that, in my opinion, is incredibly valuable. It means that any journalist can go out equipped with a wearable camera without any know-how of photography and capture real scenes from a ground-level.
Imagine sending a war journalist out onto the field with a wearable camera, or into the middle of a riot, or to the scene of a huge natural disaster. Journalists should be tenacious and want to position themselves in the heart of the action, so wearing a camera allows them to freely move around the scene so they can concentrate on taking notes or simply immersing themselves in the action.
But back to the naturalism point I made above: there is something so gripping and raw and poignant about an unstaged photograph. For every hundred unusable shots, there might be THAT shot nestled in your photostream. I think the flow between the text and the imagery would be increased a hundred million times if the two were taken from the exact same source. “This is my description of what I saw, and now see it for yourself.” As wrong, yet understandable, as it may be, it is easy to feel disconnected with swathes of the news, especially when it takes place in other parts of the world, but I truly believe that people would sit up and pay attention if they could see the pictures that accompany the words as they were seen, and the GPS functionality means that these shots could then be placed on a map with flawless accuracy, potentially immediately. I think it’s all about making the news feel more ‘first-person’ to remove that level of dissociation.
Imagine something like this fantastic feature about Malala from The Times being conducted with a wearable camera. You’re spending months with a person, you’re experiencing their life and now you can represent their life as you see it. Isn’t that brilliant? Obviously there will be issues with privacy, as is the case with Google Glass, but for realism and a truly honest insight into pretty much anything, this could be golden.