Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Authentic

Every so often out there on the webernets you'll run across someone who's posting the oddest pictures. Seemingly random terrible snaps of.. nothing. Or of something, but done in just arbitrarily stupid ways. Why is the camera upside down? What? Everything is out of focus! What are you even doing here?

In the right contexts, these things will attract all kinds of derision from self-styled Photographers. These latter have spent years mastering the simplest of goddamned things, and pride themselves on making Good Images.

I like the first pictures more than the pictures from the latter. The first have authenticity. Whether or not the picture is any damn good, there was a person, with an idea, who pressed the shutter button for a reason. They found something interesting out there. Perhaps they're mad, but they're real.

The self-styled Photographers are certainly real people, made out of meat and with a pulse and a liver and so on. The pictures they make, though, are produced by a rote algorithm. These people have learned methods and techniques and rules to produce pictures that look like everyone else's pictures, and they are grinding these second rate copies of second rate copies out, thinking they're making something. There's not a shred of authenticity here. The real person holding the camera has become a vessel for the mob's ideas and opinions.

And it shows.

Give me a thousand snapshots by a madman over a single "focused stacked praying mantis on a calla lily stem" or a set of 12 interchangeable photos labelled "senior session with Ally staring, cowlike, into the lens, while holding a guitar as a stand-in for her personality".


  1. They should not post their pictures on the Internet, then. It is the equivalent of posting pictures of burnt bibles in a catholic church.

  2. If there was actually a series called 'Ally staring cowlike' etc, I'd find it droll; its a great description of the rote produced cliche. Camera face indeed. I'd rather see the mad shots too.

  3. Forums are not made for photographers producing pictures which do not correspond to the limited set of images the members like. Forum members only want images of a specific type, so that who wins is clear: is your picture sharper than mine, is your landscape more remote and more saturated than mine, is your bird in flight rarer and better in focus, etc... The game is designed so that who has the more expensive camera and lens has better chances to win. Posting different photographs on a forum is futile, it is not the place for them.

    All this is a consequence of the excessive segmentation of the market. Web sites are designed with an exclusive market in mind. Photo forum are designed for gear heads, which finance the industry with camera purchases and workshop attendance. Photo forums are not designed for artists or anyone more interested by the artistic side of photography than by its technical side. If this is your interest, and from your blog it appears to be, do not post your images on a photo forum. You will only upset people.

    1. I only post pictures on forums to upset people.

    2. Then, by definition, you are an internet troll.

      I would not have thought that from your blog.

    3. In general I don't bother approving comments that are just an insult, but this seems to be borderline so I'll let it go.

    4. It is not at all an insult, sorry. Maybe I should have used another word, but I don't know how I could say it otherwise.

      You appear to be intelligent and reasonable on this blog, but then you said that you post to upset people. Internet trolls are characterized by the fact that they go to forums to upset people. I suppose that you believe that you have good reasons for doing so, but so do most trolls (I suppose that the reasons are that you are upset about the social consensus about pictures which are not very interesting but flashy).

      I urge you to reconsider what you are doing. Nothing good can come out of it. People will just be upset and won't change. There is nothing that can be achieved by posting photos or comments with the intent to upset people.

      If you are using a forum in a confrontational manner, the right answer is actually to find another forum, one with people you can agree with without confrontation. That would be much more satisfying than "posting pictures to upset people". Find the forum where you can post the same pictures and people will appreciate them.

      That is all I had to say, so I'll end up the discussion here. Take care.