There are a lot of reasons people give to explain taking photographs but it would seem that the real reason is rooted in the fact that we are social creatures. We photograph to document our lives, as an expression of interest in the subject and to validate or corroborate the importance of what we see.
We have documented our lives from the beginning of time using both words and images. Words came in when we started sitting around the fire, talking about what we did that day. Images started with the cave paintings. In a modern, technical society we are able to combine words and pictures in social networking, video chat, web-based presentations, paper and digital books, digital video, television, motion pictures, etc.
It seems the desire to document our lives is somehow hardwired in our brains. Go to any high school or junior high and look at the kids' notebooks- the sleeves are filled with pictures of their friends, their siblings, their friends, their pets, their friends, themselves, their friends, etc. It seems that no one has to tell them to do this. It is hard wired.
Look at the popularity of Twitter, Facebook, Snap-chat, Instagram and other social networking sites. For many, these are really nothing more than places to document their lives and to do it in a way that can be shared with others. These are the modern and technical equivalent of putting the drawing on the wall for the next group that inhabits the cave.
As societies become more technologically advanced and more literate, the documenting of our daily existence becomes more and more prevalent.
Now it is very natural to pick up a camera, be it a dedicated camera or the one on your phone, and photograph. Your kids, holiday meals, before the prom, the big game, on vacation, the dog, the cat, the Christmas tree, the family gathering, boyfriends, girlfriends, weddings, divorces, husbands, wives, yourself, your room, your house, your mom, your dad, your car, your neighbor’s car… all are photographed and shared regularly.
We share our images freely and openly with family, friends and with the complete strangers who visit our internet pages.