Ian’s recent post, Carcinus Arises is a hilarious and creative illustration of his overall approach to life and photography. If you haven’t read it you really should. It’s no doubt confirmed to me why we’ve become friends and why I enjoy contributing to this blog community.
The post got me thinking about other ways in which Greek Mythology and characters relate to photography and the modern world. I’ve got a seven (almost 8) year old daughter at home who has become keenly aware of her own reflection so the story of Narcissus came to mind almost instantly. As you’ll probably remember from 8th grade English class, Narcissus was the son of a river god father and nymph mother, two parents you could really be proud of. As such, he was an incredibly brave and beautiful hunter. He was also very proud and disdained all those who loved him for his beauty. This bothered Nemesis, goddess of revenge enough to lure Narcissus to a pool in the forest where he became transfixed by his own reflection on the surface of the water. Not realizing it was merely an image, he fell so in love with his own reflection that he was unable to move and there, eventually died.
I can’t help but think that the modern equivalent of Nemesis is the Internet and most recently smart phones and the social media network du jour. How many hours are spent gazing at our own reflections (ie online profiles, number of forum posts, comments, +1s, likes, etc) to the detriment of our “real” lives? There’s a fine line between social networking/marketing for photographers and falling under the spell of your own reflection. So at the danger of being somewhat hypocritical and tongue firmly planted in cheek, here are my Top 5 Ways to Avoid Falling Under the Modern Day Spell of Nemesis:
1) Don’t produce, or worse share videos of yourself “working” in the field unless they are bonafide instructional videos. Videos of you musing over what photography has contributed to your life or espousing over how you hope to change the world through your images are just plain stupid!
2) Don’t post smartphone snaps of your camera set up from some far flung (or worse, domestic) locale with hashtags for the more “famous” photographers that happen to be with you.
3) Don’t post pictures of you holding the print that you just shipped out to some “client” (ie your mom) in South Carolina. If you’re a pro, then you should have clients, and they should give you money for what you do. When I was a teacher I didn’t post pictures of my student’s graded homework before handing it back with the caption, “Another happy client about to receive their lab report.”
4) If you still have a day job (and it’s fine if you do, in fact smarter) don’t pretend online that you don’t. On the same note, if you’re rich or have a trust fund, say so. We’ll still love you, maybe even more…
5) Don’t show off by taking pictures of you unpacking the new lens that just arrived from B&H. As photographers I think it’s safe to assume we buy some new gear from time to time, no big deal. I don’t understand why the world needs to know when we do, it’s not like I take pictures of my groceries before I put them in the fridge.
Bonus: Don’t host a Google Hangout. Period, needs no further explanation…
Now I’ve got to get back to work, there are lots of prints to make for clients, a big video project to finalize, endless status updates, gear to unpack, pack and unpack again, as well as an exciting announcement to plan for my newest collaboration with #SuperStudPhotoManExtraordinaire and +McCanonNikonWacomAndroid ;)
Technical Details: Canon 5DII, EF 16-35 f2.8L, f11 @ 1.6 sec., ISO 100, 3 stop grad. I carefully positioned the camera for a low, close up perspective of this pool but fortunately avoided seeing my own reflection…