Beyond Social Media: The Old Ways…

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Like any good Samurai, I long to do things the old way…

 

Do I like microwaves? Nah. I heat my food up in the oven. TV dinners too.

 

Do I like TV? Of course I like TV. Um….at least I used to. I guess TV has lost its appeal to me as the centerpiece of human entertainment…

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What has replaced TV?

Facebook.

Instagram.

Snapchat.

YouTube (which I like)

Netflix.

Every video game ever made in last 17 years…

…the distracting temptation of each mindless app on your phone.

 

At some point you look at all these cable stations and social media platforms and you feel as though you are spending your waking hours in a place that isn’t real.

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I mean, lets say you are at work, (which is most likely a real place) but when you get bored or frustrated or happy or whatever at work you go to this virtual place on your phone to share random thoughts or to gain some sort of misplaced perspective by driving yourself to irrational jealousy as you follow other peoples lives…

 

I don’t want to be too harsh here. Even a Samurai must adapt to change. When the Shogun dies we become Ronin. When the Katana is outlawed we buy guns. When guns are outlawed we buy wine.

 

Still… I think back to my youth, when we had 3 TV’s (which each had 5 available channels to watch) and a chorded phone and a radio. Nowadays I have all that in my iPhone. All of it. I long for the days when the world was smaller and I couldn’t interact with so many people virtually.

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For instance, I have several Facebook “friends” in Indonesia. I will never see them in person within this lifetime most likely, and even if they really aren’t so special that I’d go to the other side of the planet to holla at them, part of me wishes I could see them. Why? Because I see them on my phone and maybe we traded some adult photos back when Facebook was newer and people did that shit. That makes me want to see them. That makes me subconsciously compare American woman I meet to these world-apart Indonesian gals. Life was a lot simpler when Indonesian girls were a “theory” or a curiosity and nothing more. In short: the internet has made the world smaller but it has also made me feel smaller too, while making my expectation of the world bigger.

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I deleted my Instagram account today. Why? First because I was shadowbanned and secondly because it was useless to me. I have never made a single meaningful contact through IG. R X R Photo has never booked a photoshoot or made a dime from it. I have felt bad when a photo didn’t get as many “likes” as I felt it deserved though…

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Will I delete Facebook next? That’s possible, but I’ll give that another year or two. I have a feeling I’ll just end up using Facebook messenger only…which I really don’t understand how it’s superior to regular old texting, but whatever. I would like to be like the old photographers who booked clients through word of mouth and their own websites and not through becoming a bitch for social media. I’m starting to hate what I see everyday. Nothing is separate any longer. There are no sub-genres. Every little interest you may have on social media moves along the rivers and dumps into the big social media oceans of presidential politics, social causes, and blindly fighting with strangers. It sucks. I suppose this social media thing as isn’t social anymore…

 

Exit.

 

Street Photography Should Not Be Televised

YouTube is ubiquitous, and you can learn damn near anything by watching a video there. Want to know how to replace the starter on a 2004 Honda Accord: YouTube. With that being said, some deeds are best left unseen. Some processes are so personally customized, yet at the same time so stunningly basic, that it is objectionable to watch the deconstruction of these processes onscreen. Some curtains should never be pulled back. Such is the case with street photography.

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There are a lot of photography gear reviews on Youtube. Many of them are useful and informative, and even the ones that aren’t particularly useful still have value from a “gear porn” perspective. I watch reviews frequently, even of gear I’d never use, on various channels I follow such as this one, and in general I don’t find fault with what the reviewer is saying, especially if the presenter is pretty, funny or knowledgable (or all three  like Cherry Wong). It would be hard for me to find fault with the bulk content of many reviews, even if I wanted to, because I’ve never shot test charts. I don’t do high ISO comparisons between camera brands or calibrate lenses. I hardly pay attention to vignetting or pin cushion distortion unless it is horribly pronounced in a photograph. I don’t use entire menu categories on my camera. They are just somethingannoying  I have to skip over while I navigate to the menu options I use frequently. Unless I’m gear prospecting or Leica lusting, I watch these review videos just to see whats new and popping out there, and to gauge how people feel about whats new and popping out there, even if I don’t care much about what they are discussing. In summary I suppose I’m saying it’s generally all good when I watch reviews on youtube.

One thing makes me cringe however. Sometimes it happens during the image quality portion of the review, but I want to slap reviewers when they say the following, more or less:

Now lets go and test out this (insert gear) shooting some street photography!

You just told us you was a wedding shooter. Why don’t you make a video testing the gear at a wedding? Is it because you look DOWN on street photography and feel like there is no penalty for you posting horrible street photographs on the internet? These same reviewers will say as an aside: “I shot with this camera at a wedding recently and found that the dynamic range was just not as good as my Sony” or whatever. Well where is the footage of that shit, of you shooting the camera in your genre of expertise? Why do you instead have footage of you walking around your hometown shooting gargoyle statues and elderly people and calling it street photography? Get the fuck out of here with that. I need to start pulling up on shooters and checking them, gangland style, but I digress….

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First of all the game is to be sold and not told, but thats another topic altogether. Secondly, there is that moment where we see video of the photographer taking a “street photo” and then hear the obligatory artificial shutter sound. Next they show the actual processed photo and it’s usually horrible or at the very best it’s average. Street photography cannot be forced for the purpose of some full frame DSLR or 35mm lens review. Street photography should not be what this is called. What you are doing, reviewers, is taking shots of people and things on the street. Call it test shots. Please don’t call that weak shit street photography. I’ve seen your work, many of you, and a good bit of you actually can shoot. A better approach, instead of the video-fake-shutter-crappy-photo approach, is when savvy photographers pause the review video and show a short montage of street photos they actually worked to get. They do not show random, forced, crappy shots used just because it syncs up well with the video footage, editing wise. The photo montage, no matter how good it is,  should not be segmented by those annoying fake shutter sounds though.

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These are my first-world microstruggles brothers and sisters. While the political left is popping Xanax at the idea of Trump for 4 years, I’m skipping past entire segments of a YouTube photo gear review because the reviewer said he was about to shoot some “street photography”. You don’t go out and “shoot some street photography” asshole. Street photography is a mindset. You’re either street or you’re not. Bresson was a goddamn war correspondent, for fucks sake. Bruce Gilden was a gangster. This isn’t a genre for pussies. Street photography is rooted in hostility and danger. It is looked down upon and thought to be simple by many photographers, most of them wedding and portrait shooters, but street photography is in fact the hardest genre to master. I’d tell you more, but then I’d have to charge you. Stay low and keep shooting.