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dot life Monday, 28 October, 2002, 11:48 GMT
Your life in pictures
Photographers, BBC

It's not just celebrities who get snapped on a daily basis - as cameras get smaller, more people are documenting their everyday lives.
There's nothing like a photograph to bring the memories flooding back. And the frequency with which memorable events get caught on camera are growing very rapidly.

It used to be that only professional photographers carried a camera at all times. The rest of us only thought to take one along for special occasions or on holidays.

Now some digital cameras are small enough to hang off a key ring, and others are being squeezed into phones and watches. Thus chances are that you, or a friend, will be carrying one when something snap-worthy happens.

Handy cameras

Phone makers Sharp, SonyEricsson, Nokia and Panasonic are selling mobiles with cameras built in - and these look set to be very popular.

Online photo album
A typical online photo album
In Japan Vodafone subsidiary J-Phone has enjoyed huge success with its Sha-Mail picture phone service. Sha-Mail now has more than 7 million subscribers, about 54% of J-Phone's customers.

In the UK and Europe, early reports suggest that SonyEricsson's T68i and Nokia's 7650 camera phones are selling fast. Many shops reported that they had run out of stock within days of these models going on sale.

Many buyers are using these mobiles to record their day-to-day lives.

Online galleries of these photographs are popping up in increasing numbers, similar to existing sites filled with images snapped with Casio's range of wristwatch cameras.

Snap happy

One that is already enjoying cult viewing status is the visual diary of Joel Rowbottom.

"I use the 7650 for candid shots all over the place, even backs of heads or adverts," he says.

Prince Charles in the pub, PA
You never know who you might run into
In 1998, Mr Rowbottom and his wife set up the Fotopic website to give people a place to store and share their snaps online. The site now holds some 10,000 albums, although Mr Rowbottom's is one of the few incorporating snaps taken with a 7650.

"Looking upon it one way, it's a sort of voyeurism - it's for folks who like taking photos of their friends, who log everything, no matter how dull or outrageous."

He is not alone. There are already stories circulating of people who took a photo of a mugger before he struck, or of a robbery in progress. Soon anything noteworthy will be snapped.

Capture the moment

And with no worries about running out of film, or shelling out for photos to be developed, people are taking far more pictures.

Graham Hobson, managing director and co-founder of the online printing service Photobox, says the average order is 40 pictures.

Big Brother
Big Brother proved the mundane to be fascinating
Those with digital cameras tend to snap many photos at an event or of an incident, delete those they don't like, and then continue shooting.

"The constant distillation process means you end up with very high-quality images," he says. By contrast, those with a film camera end up with 24 or 36 snaps, only a few of which are worth developing.

The intrusion of cameras into our everyday lives should come as no surprise, what with the rise of CCTV, webcams and reality TV shows such as Big Brother.

In a celebrity-obsessed culture, it could be that we all think our lives are interesting enough to be captured on camera. Then again, it could just be that we like to play with these new toys.

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Weely guide to getting buttoned up

See also:

22 Jul 02 | dot life
15 Jul 02 | dot life
02 Nov 01 | Science/Nature
11 Mar 02 | Science/Nature
28 Feb 02 | Science/Nature
02 Aug 02 | Technology
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