Why Do You Hate Us?

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I’m not going to cut too deeply here but I’ve been wondering recently why everyone seems to hate black people…

 

Culturally, we have the smallest footprint as far as interracial atrocities are concerned. We haven’t enslaved another race. We didn’t eradicate another race (quite the opposite actually). We don’t manipulate the banking systems of the world. We are generally poor of course (globally) and we commit a large number of violent crimes against members of our own race, but that doesn’t seem the be enough reason for the entire race of blacks to be hated…

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There are no wars depicted in lore where blacks have raped and pillaged on another continent other than Africa. Blacks are generally festive and accepting of others historically, and that sentiment has been rewarded with being enslaved and discriminated against and made out to be a reason to clutch your purse when you see us on the street.

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Like I said….I wont get too deep but non-black folks just ask yourself why you hate black people. What did we ever do? To ANYBODY?

Exit.

The Follower…

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I have never been comfortable with the concept of being a follower.

This attitude and subsequent behavior pattern for me dates back to my days as a toddler, according to my mother. I’ve always been a bit of a rebel she says, or more precisely, a little badass free agent.

Not to say I haven’t followed behind friends and done dumb shit. Of course I have. Those experiences just made me more adamant about not being a follower.

So along comes Twitter and then Instagram and these apps ask me to follow people and try to attract followers by any means…. and ya boy Ric Ray is immediately offended. Followers huh?

I mean, Tom of Myspace didn’t ask me to follow him. Tom wanted to be my friend. I sort of liked that about Tom. Even Facebook went the “friend” route and did so more intimately by limiting the number of friends I could have to 5 thousand. As far as reductionism is concerned Facebook is an outlier. IG and Twitter put no limits on the number of followers you can amass. Myspace had no limit to the number of friends you could add.

IG doesn’t limit you. Nope. Your pathetic, uninteresting, pedestrian life limits you. Ive never had more than a few hundred followers on any platform….

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I’m too humble to think myself so fabulous that I’d have actual followers. To be fair though, I know “follower” in the social media sense means that this or that person is following my feed, not the creepy “Jim Jones in Guyana with a few cups of cyanide and a cult” type of followers…..but it still seems contrived and unseemly. Of course someone like Taylor Swift has millions of true followers and deservedly so. She’s a megastar. Perhaps a person who amasses say… 25 thousand followers on Twitter can have a slice of that megastar feeling. Maybe for a price…

You of course can buy followers. You can also “follow for follow” with people and then get sneaky and unfollow them so you can have that golden ratio of 1000 to 1 followers.

Like when you look at some pop star’s follow/follower count and she has 1.2 million followers but only follows 1200 people….Nice.

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I just don’t like the concept of following anyone. No one is worth following to me really. I don’t care what my favorite rapper is doing this evening or when my favorite pornstars’ next live cam show is happening. Who gives a fuck?

The reasons I’m done with IG and Twitter sort of mirror my hesitancy to buy into bitcoin at the current time… Allow me to explain….

Bitcoin was good to get into early. You could mine bitcoin without using a completely prohibitive amount of power (electricity) to do so. Nowadays mining bitcoin can only be undertaken by people (or sovereign nations) with a lot of money and resources already at their disposal, like North Korea for instance. Otherwise your ROI will be negative in all but the most ideal circumstances. Similarly Twitter was hot to get into early when people were following like crazy, but a few million spam bots and Nigerian email scams later and people are a bit more conservative with their follows, UNLESS you are a person with a lot of fame, money, and resources…..

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I hate following people and honestly I don’t like being followed. Facebook even tries the follower thing but it’s not well defined and it comes off as sketchy. They can keep it. They all can just keep it…..

Exit.

STREET PHOTOGRAPHY: Sharing is Caring?

Instagram has started shadowbanning people. 

Don’t know what shadowbanning is? Google it. The thumbnail sketch goes like this: Instagram makes you think people are seeing your post when you use hashtags, and when you check the hashtags yourself your post is visible, but others cannot see your post when they search for that hashtag. 

Instagram is mind-fucking you. They want you to think your post and hashtags are reaching new users, but in fact only your followers can see your post. 

That’s some dastardly shit. 

Reportedly, other social media outlets shadowban users. Twitter has been allegedly doing it for years. My issue with it is just one of disappointment. Sure, Instagram is free and the owners can do whatever they like, but it’s just that I’m running out of ideas of how and where to share my street photos online and potentially be exposed to folks I don’t already know in the process. Should any of this matter to me on a personal or even a professional level? Nah. Still, it’s fun to share photos and gain followers and get likes and all. People may hate on the idea in principle but who cares if an activity is important or not if that activity is fun? Everything a photographer does doesn’t have to be part of some Machiavellian scheme for world photographic dominance. It’s perfectly fine to get a kick out of people “liking” your photos, even if folks generally like “everything” and aren’t really interacting with your portfolio. 

I don’t understand Snapchat at all for the record….

At any rate, Flickr seems to filled with foreigners and old people. Facebook is over-saturated. Twitter is for famous people and to find out if somebody is really dead. Instagram has started shadowbanning users. Great. Just fucking great. I am in the streets shooting, interacting with people every day. It would be nice if it didn’t end there. It would be nice if there were some allowable enjoyment to be had via street photography besides the act of taking the photos themselves…..

I care about street photography and sharing is caring. We shouldn’t all have to be like Vivian Meyer and have our entire portfolio discovered after we are long dead….

Exit. 

PHOTOGRAPHY: A Disorganized Mess….

Why don’t photographers have unions?

I get it: photographers are not thought to be as “important” as electricians or bricklayers, nor are they generally thought to be as valuable as teachers or meat cutters, but has anyone ever attempted to organize photographers into anything more than an elitist collective like Magnum?

My thoughts on this are as follows: most photographers are petty and despise the work and success of their contemporaries. It’s pretty hard to organize into a brotherhood when you think that way. You cannot be petty and small-minded if you want to unionize. It would be nice to, for example, have standard levels of apprentice, journeyman and master photographer, and to have wage scales commensurate with said levels. This would make shooting for a major publication a straightforward process financially speaking, and may add clarity as to what an apprentice should charge to shoot a wedding as opposed to a journeyman.

Let me pause and say that I’m a political moderate AKA a registered independent. I’m not typically the guy who has strong opinions about labor unions. There are all sorts of counter-argumentative things to consider when organizing a photographic union, and price undercutting and scab behavior would be rampant, but this is just a thought exercise, not a proposal….

Actors and screenwriters have unions, so it’s not like you have to just build or fix or teach something in order to unionize. There can be artists (if we are indeed artists) who form unions. Many photographers would be utterly terrified of being blacklisted or denied work, but I also think many of us on the street photography side would consider joining such a union. Street photographers don’t get paid anyhow and most of us earn a living through conventional jobs. It’s the wedding, portrait, sports, magazine and commercial shooters who would bitch up and cross hypothetical picket lines in all likelihood. I understand that we all have families to feed, but a union would be beneficial to all of us in the long run and provide a much needed hierarchy and eventually structured payment to the whole genre. Of course, as I said earlier, most photographers seem resentful and jealous of other, more accomplished photographers. That is unfortunate and is part of the reason, along with affordable amateurism, that the whole of the photographic profession is drying up money-wise….

This is no micro-struggle. This is real shit that I’d love Peta-Pixel or one of the big dog blogs to address. We are dying and we need to band together in order to survive. Of course I could be wrong for caring about this, being that nobody else seems to….

Exit.

PHOTOGRAPHY: The Black Camera Ambassador 

I’m going to keep this short because, well, I know my audience is basically a bunch of beer drinking white guys. I’m fine with that. Underneath my black skin and aside from sobriety, I’m basically a beer chugging white dude myself. I find something troubling however: 

There is an alarming paucity of black/African-American camera brand ambassadors…. 

I know bruh, it’s not your fault, but hear me out. 

I don’t know why the fuck this is. A number of black shooters are accomplished professionals right? It’s not like black photographers don’t spend a small fortune on camera gear like any other subculture does, but I have an impossibly hard time finding a black brand ambassador for ANY camera brand I can think of. 

Canon? Nah. Fuji? Nope. Leica? Lol! Really?

Late 80’s shooting Ricky Ray style….
I’m sure folks can point me in the direction of a few black guys who get to try out new cameras before they are released and shit like that. I’d appreciate info about them. I suspect they are coons and ass-kissers but I can surely be wrong. I’m keeping an open mind….

Maybe black folks are seen as criminals. Fuji probably thinks I’ll run off with an unreleased camera and disappear or some fuckery like that. Funny how I see so many white and Asian brand ambassadors on YouTube though…. and hardly any women either, regardless of race.

 

This is perhaps a micro-struggle, but it speaks to a larger problem in society. I don’t want to infuriate my loyal readers but I guess I’ll have to wait for you to preview new gear on the web before I buy it because it will never be me. I was born on the wrong side of the color palate. 

Exit. 

Fake Celebrities in Street Photography

At some point in the past 20 years talent ceased to be a prerequisite for a person becoming a celebrity.

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I blame MTV. That network, to my knowledge, was the first to present reality TV as we know and love/hate it today when they premiered a show called “The Real World”. Since then there have been dozens upon dozens of reality TV shows and at a later time YouTube channels, which present no-talent but handsome men and self absorbed yet beautiful women, transforming them from models and socialites into international superstars.

This trend has also extended into sports, where instead of pro and amateur athletes being the main draw of a network now there are folks talking and giving opinions about athletes who have been elevated into superstardom. Mind you, the sports related discussion methods that have made many of these folks famous are borrowed directly from black barbershops across America. These new barber shop inspired sports pundits don’t really have any oratory talent per se, besides perhaps being able to craft memorable one-liners occasionally. The funny thing is many of the folks on ESPN and other sports networks were once sports writers who displayed a bit of talent in their day, but when offered they decided to forsake their talents for the promise of mindless fame and fortune. Instead of writing columns they now just emote on TV about issues that have no calculable significance to the public at large, and in fact these pundits have caused the demise of many athletes by over-hyping issues that decades ago were ignored by the public.

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As for we photographers our fake celebrities are on YouTube. How many photographers do you see posting camera and lens reviews on YouTube despite the fact that they don’t themselves take good photos with ANY camera? Is there talent in being able to operate a video camera, edit movie files and add music? Similar to sports, is there talent in deciding to be provocative and dissing cameras and lenses just to get views? Are some of the folks posting videos themed “how to do street photography” even able to take more than one good street photo per year? I dunno….all I do know is I see a lot of fake ass celebrities on TV and the internet and trend doesn’t seem like it will end anytime soon. If ever.

I mean…..our president was himself a reality TV star, plucked right from the belly of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” and reared on “The Apprentice”. Of course I’m just a fucking hater…..

Exit.

Random Thoughts on Street Photography and Life….

• I ordered these today on Amazon in advance of buying the Fuji X100F next month or     whenever its available (I pre-ordered the camera). Anybody use these things?

• Part of me wants to enter a few Street Photography contests but I’m always suspicious of the photo judgement process. It may be that I never trust authority in general. In addition to my innate suspicion I also don’t want to spend 25-50 dollars (or more) on entry fees. I’m not really a cheap bastard but I’m not a gambler either. These contests feel a lot like gambling.

• I’m still on a break from shooting street. I have been shooting sports a lot lately and I hate it as much as usual. I love the high school sports environment and the on-court access, but there is no creativity involved in shooting live sports. All I do is track and shoot. In fact, I usually feel some shame that I missed a killer dunk or something because I was chimping or chatting with a fan….

• My dating life still fucking sucks. If you know any good looking single women between 29-52 in the Baltimore/DC area hit me up…..

• Having used back button focus for years when framing street compositions and while shooting sports photography, I think I’ll try using the shutter button to lock focus with my Fuji X100F when I get it. There’s no real reason. I just want to see how it feels.

• After the success of my decision post I’ll likely compose a real life review of the X100F. Don’t worry, I’ll curse up a goddamn storm just like you’d expect me too. Fuck that….

• I have been torn between curvy fat women and smallish fit women my entire adult life and am no closer to determining which I prefer than I was at 26 years old. This decision isn’t helped by the fact that no woman wants me anyhow.

• Does everyone check their order status on Amazon every 7 minutes like I do? Why hasn’t the shit shipped already? It’s been 25 minutes since I ordered it. Come on! Do your fucking job!

• My social media blackout has been extended indefinitely. You people are going silly shit nuts over Trump, especially women of a certain ilk and hue.

Exit…..

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Everything looks normal here….

My Social Media Blackout

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Canon 5d Mark III with a 50mm 1.2 lens…

I don’t know if you fine citizens in America have noticed but social media is nearly unusable during the weeks leading up to an election for President. I can’t enjoy one good WorldStarHipHop fight video before I see folks who only watch CNN when there is a tragedy, all of a sudden write posts as if they are talking heads or political pundits. I had no idea watching two debates on TV gives a citizen an honorary degree in political science.

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“Get out. Bye”….my reaction when I see a mean spirited call-for-action political post on my timeline. 

So this week more than any other before, my Facebook feed is largely anti-Trump posts (most of my Facebook friends are black liberals) or the occasional “Hilary sucks too” post. My white Facebook friends are all over the map topic wise. Some are dreading nuclear war if Clinton is elected. Others are offering up no-chance third party candidates. Many are dead quiet, and these are probably folks who have decided to vote for Donald. Your boy Ric Ray is a moderate and is a registered independent. I never know who I will vote for until I’m in the booth staring at the names. The last two times I voted for president I was overcome with the spirit of “we shall overcome” and voted for Obama. In truth I wasn’t too keen on him or his opponents. I’m just not enthusiastic about the major elections at all.

Scrolling through my Facebook feed, and to a lesser degree my Instagram feed,  I am horrified at the depths to which people are going to in order to bash these candidates. I understand that in a democratic nation such as ours, coupled with modern tech and social media, this is what is going to happen. There will be doom-and-gloom posts and deeply ironic judgements rendered on a candidates’ character, judgements that a person would never want made against themselves. When confronted with that argument people like to say, “…but I’m not running for president!”

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My reaction reading all this madness on social media. One of these candidates will be our president you know…..

My response is always, “…you would if you could”

Every working adult would accept the position of president or king or queen if the position required little to no effort to gain and maintain.

I get it. This is the first, full-fledged, reality-TV based election. Both candidates are famous for being celebrities mores than for being good politicians, even though Clinton was a senator for a decade. The same way people bash or blindly worship Kim Kardashian, folks will do with Trump and Mrs. Clinton. I’m not even saying this is wrong. I just don’t want to see it on my Facebook feed. Thus, I’m unfollowing damn near half my feed until this whole “leader of the free world” thing gets sorted out…..

Unless you are one of those folks who post mean political attacks, please like and share my post….