Of course people enjoy glancing at your photos, or maybe they just enjoy “liking” photos on various social media outlets. Hard to tell. It’s very simple to “like” a large number of photos in a short span of time if you want to. In fact, you barely have to know what you’re liking. You scroll and like, all the way down the feed until you get bored, and maybe if you’re lucky somebody will “like” you back….
We sure would like for our photos to be liked, and I don’t mean social media liked…. I mean deeply liked. I know I would like that.
Well…. I think.
Would you like that? We spend a lot of money on gear and time on social media pumping our brands. I know I do. Maybe I should do more. Hard to tell. Will I ever get people to like my photos or will I simply get people to “like” my photos? Hard to tell….
Am I even good? That’s not hard to tell. I haven’t been shooting for very long and I don’t have any formal training so my guess is I’m average at best. Does that even make a difference? I see photographers who are definitely not good have wild success due to their networking skills and personal charm. Is being good overrated? Hard to say….
We struggle so hard to get a foothold in this business but for what? I could rob an NYC subway train car at gunpoint, demanding each passengers cell phone, and I’m certain that 100% of those phones have cameras on them. Everyone is a photographer these days to some degree. In fact, many folks with cell phones shoot more photos per day, thereby getting far more practice, than art-school bred professionals. An Instagram model may have 2000 photos on her page while an artist might think he’s one of the best in the world having an online portfolio of 20 photos. Both may have thousands of followers but for different reasons, even though the reasons intersect at the corner of brand popularity and photographic content….
This is a micro-struggle indeeed. The fate of our great nation does not hinge on the need for a person to buy a better lens to take better portraits. Still, sometimes I wonder if any of what we do in photography is worth it when nobody gives a fuck about our photos anyhow. In fact, if you let art-school geeks tell it: most people don’t know how to give a fuck about photography. We lack the necessary education and refinement to do so. We’re photographic savages basically…
Well, I won’t give a fuck if you don’t. Let’s keep posting photos we snap and maybe I’ll slap the shit out of an art-school nerd just for fun. Sometimes it feels good to bully the bullies….
Let me get two boring but true aborted blog titles out of the way to start:
Street Photography is Art.
Street Photography is Journalism.
This blog post is more about journalism than art for this particular point…
With that done let me get to the meat of my point. Typically journalism documents famous people, criminals, politicians, athletes, and war. I am none of these things. Neither are most of you. Most of you are just regular folks with regular jobs and regular numbers of Instagram followers. Most of you don’t matter in the grand scheme of social media or even your local church or civic organizations. Most of you, of us, will matriculate through history with only selfies, family portraits, embarrassing school photos, and equally embarrassing party candids as our visual legacy.
Some of us however, will be fortunate enough to catch the random eye of the growing number of street shooters out there. Street shooters are not the paparazzi. We photograph nameless people with the intent of posting or printing the likenesses of those people to be preserved forever. Street photographers document the history of you, of us, the irrelevant majority.
1000 years from now people will look back at street photography and be able to glean what life was actually like in the early part of the 21st century. They will, our descendants, notice that celebrity and standard journalism, coupled with selfies and social media branding, can be contrived and propaganda driven, whereas street photography is pure. I take a photo of a woman walking and that’s all it is: a woman walking. I have no agenda. I am not trying to sway public opinion for some financial or other nefarious end. I am not sure more than a handful of people will ever see the photo. Nonetheless I am protecting the integrity of history in the truest sense. I see. I compose. I shoot. I record the history of us. I stay low and I keep shooting…
Now ignore everything I just wrote and like and share my blog post so I can someday rule the world….
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.
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!”
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….