Gray’s Anatomy – Remember your leisure time pre-Instagram?

It’s Friday again and of course that means just one thing around here, Richard Gray and his awesome humorous Gray’s Anatomy column, to get you in the right mood for the weekend. I have to say, I read this latest article with a smile on my face and several nods of my head, yes, right there with you Richard! Don’t miss this… (foreward by Joanne).



I finished reading a book the other day. The way it happened was that I was at a birthday celebration and one of my friends, let’s call him Adrian, gave the birthday boy, let’s call him Dominic, a book as a gift. When Dominic saw the book’s title, he said: “You muppet, didn’t you think I’d already read Stalingrad? Everyone’s read Stalingrad.” He turned and pointed accusingly at the hard copy on his bookshelf. I felt this was slightly harsh treatment by my friend. Part wanting to help out my taken-aback gift-giving friend, and part feeling I perhaps ought to read this book (that “everyone’s read”) myself, I said: “I haven’t read it. I’ll have it.”



© Richard Gray – ‘Books: I remember them’


So I embarked on a chilling story of politics, horrific combat and military strategy. It is a great read. But it took me about 2 months. As the old joke goes: “I’m writing this slowly because I know you’re not a fast reader” I’m not a fast reader. But it’s an achievement to have read a book from cover to cover at all these days. I don’t think I’d read another book since…. March 20, 2011. That’s the day I started on Instagram. Like, I’m sure, many of you reading this, it wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to say that Instagram now dominates a big chunk of my leisure time. Taking photos, apping images and then chatting about them (and other people’s) online: it takes up a lot of my time.

So what else has moved aside? I cancelled my Sky Sports subscription. I’d started nodding off during the matches. I hardly watch any TV at all now. I take a newspaper with me when I get on the tube, but someone’s face usually catches my eye or there’s a recent photo I want to app up.

Books are great, but they’re still someone else’s words. Taking and apping photos, you’re on the active side. You’re not being passive. You’re creating, not consuming. Isn’t that a great thing, to be expressing yourself, to be bringing something into this world? I get a little spark of joy whenever I get a shot (or an edit) that I like – as photographers down the ages have. But with smart phone cameras, you can now get more of those sparks of joy, more of the time.

Richard's mobile photography has been exhibited around the world and published in various magazines and on many websites. He launched the world's first live course in iPhone photography in early 2012 with Kensington and Chelsea College. He has given workshops with The Photographers' Gallery and British Journal of Photography. Sport England recently commissioned him to cover various of its Sportivate initiatives with the iPhone. A keen observer of this new photographic genre, his writing has been widely published (most notably in The Guardian) and he writes a blog (iphoggy-bloggy). With a big camera, he specialises in music photography ( and syndicates to Press Association (with both big and small cameras).


  • Lilian

    There is still audiobooks. You can listen while you take pictures or edit them. I do it all the time!

    • Richard Gray

      Thanks, Lilian. Yes, good suggestion. Though I remember a Buddhist I once spoke to (or possibly saw on the TV) said that he only ever does one thing at a time, including eating. To get really absorbed in whatever it is. Still, glad you liked.