Beware of Joe & His Camera

2011-02-15 Dangerous Photos

2011-02-15 Dangerous Photos

This is a vent and a bit of a rant. It’s probably unwise for me to share this, and so I want to offer a blanket apology to anyone who feels that I’m being unfair or that it’s wrong for me to write about this. I guess that’s kind’a what this comes down to: as a writer (and photographer) I’m compelled to share my work with the biggest audience possible. In the pre-Full Sail days, it was the need to share that motivated me to post my musings and photos. But I had little concern about who was watching/reading because the truth was I was probably my own audience of one most of the time. Since then I’ve become aware that I have students, co-workers and the occasional relative visiting. Believe me, that makes me a bit more cautious, but the artist in me still compels me to share.

So, it saddens me when I get the pull-down email from someone who feels that I’m invading their privacy with my work. Okay, it more than saddens me when the email accuses me of being careless or even mean-spirited with my postings. “Really Joe, you should know better!” Here’s what I do know: when I pull out my camera I’m just trying to capture enough of what’s happening so that those who were there can enjoy the memories of a shared experience. I’m not trying to capture embarrassing moments or looking to make anyone look silly. Although, I’m the first to admit that there have been a few whom I’ve consistently caught with food in their mouths (sorry M Haynes). But the point is that I’m just making the effort to capture the moment, not to embarrass anyone.

At the same time I’m fully aware that there is the personal lens by which everyone sees the world such that we’re all drawn to seeing all of our own imperfections whenever we see ourselves in a photo. For example, I see a little kid playing with his toys on the floor possibly thinking about how he’s going to get the stuff behind the kiddie-fence, while someone else sees themselves with their back to the camera and they can only see that it’s not very flattering (to them). I guess I could crop the photo so that the unflattering bits are cut out, but the point of such a photo might be the interplay between the little one on the floor and the one not facing the camera.

So, when I see the photo I see the interplay between a little kid on the floor and the adult and it seems like a reasonable image capturing that moment. If I were in the photo with my back toward the camera would I be uncomfortable? Well, that test doesn’t work because I would see the photo as being about the kid AND me (in this version) and not about my posterior. Now if it were a close-up of the Buddha-belly, I might cringe. But if it told a story about that day and those people or about what happened, I’d find a way to get over myself.

All I wanted to do was to capture these moments and share them. No malice, no agenda, just wanting to share the moment. And it takes a lot of time and effort to post the photos, so it’s all the more irritating when I get the pull-down email. As much as I probably should publish a lot fewer photos (i’m up to over 11,500 pix) this isn’t the same as saying that I post everything. There is some cropping and image enhancement and selection that goes into this. So, yeah, I feel like no good deed goes unpunished when someone tells me that they don’t want all those photos posted. I’m mean, why bother taking the pictures in the first place if no one is ever going to see them?

There must be something to wanting to share our photos in that many of us exchanged DVDs and CDs with photos from over the years this past Christmas. “But Joe, why would you want to share your photos on the open Internet, I mean, really!” I’ve chosen to post my photos to Flickr because I’ve learned over the years that any barrier to entry, anything that requires passwords or signing up for this service or that service, is enough to make it too difficult for anyone to find the photos, thus defeating the purpose of sharing. Period. I’ve decided that I’m going to make it as simple as possible for the photos to be found and enjoyed. As for the danger of posting things on the “open Internet,” except for those in the photos or close friends, no one cares. Remember, I’m just capturing little moments that only matter to us. The paranoia that posting photos on the Internet might lead to a life of misery or visit from the agency with the black helicopters is just plain silly. Believe me, I know, it’s part of my job to know about this Internet stuff.

Alas, among most of my relations I know that I’m the odd one who has consistently chosen to live my life on the open Internet. It’s frustrating to know that my siblings have the most amazing collection of photos and except for this one time, last Christmas, almost no one has access to any of it. I have tried to be a cheerleader and in the past gave Pro-accounts to flickr.com to the siblings only to have them expire with only two of the sibs taking advantage of the accounts. Sad. All the hours I put into this… funny thing, a co-worker was looking for work-related photos for a project she was working on and ended up spending probably too much time wandering through the family-related stuff and later complimented me, well, us because she thought we seemed to be a very fun group, based on the photos she saw. She seemed to get the point of all of these photos. Yeah, beware of Joe and his camera, he’s nefariously capturing images of us and stealing our privacy by posting the images on the web. Or maybe he’s just making it possible for us to enjoy our brief moments together long after the moments have past.

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