Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Smile and Say Sleaze

My fridge is a focal point of my living quarters. Everyone who enters my small home is drawn to it. Its coarse exterior is decorated with snapshots of happy times from some of yesteryear’s birthday parties, wedding-related festivities, road trips, girls’ nights out - it’s a real montage. I love taking pictures of and with my little darlings.

There may have been a time or two when I’ve gotten a little camera-overzealous, but I know when to cool it with the clicking. There’s a fine line between being an overzealous recreational photographer and being an inappropriate one, and it’s a line that’s constantly crossed in this town. Laypeople will zoom in to take close-ups of fresh accident-scene victims or artists performing in on-stage productions that expressly prohibit picture-taking from the audience. Others will take a string of general nuisance shots, not caring about who gets disrupted in the process.
I’ve been frequenting the New York Public Library’s main reading room this month, and some of the amateur photographers who promenade through it are out of control with the cameras that hang from their necks. They stay loud, they stay long, and they’re full of flashes. (There are people trying to get serious work done in that room! Not me – but almost everyone else who doesn’t have a camera looks super stressed out and busy.)
They snap picture after picture of inanimate objects, professional versions of which can probably be found somewhere online. How can you fully appreciate or soak up an environment while you’re maniacally documenting nearly every minute you spend in it?
If any of these reading room photos end up on a fridge someday, I hope it’s not one of the boring ones that were taken of the same ceilings, tables, lamps, and bookshelves over and over again. The hey-here’s-me-pretending-to-engage-in-legitimate-business-at-a-major-public-research-library-after-having-suddenly-inserted-myself-in-the-middle-of-a-group-of-unsuspecting-readers shot seems much more suitable for future household-appliance display.  


  1. I love taking photos too! I can become quite over-zealous myself and I've found in the past that when I went on holiday I spent more time than I would have liked taking photos. So now, one or two pics suffice (or when I see something interesting)... but I like to get a feel of the place that I don't usually get because I'm too busy looking through a lens.

  2. Since we're in the digital age, you'd think they could invent a camera that doesn't make a noise every time it takes a picture. Seriously, if you push the button, you KNOW you've taken a picture. The review window will show you that you've taken one. Do we really need beeps and clicks and pops? No, I think we do not.

  3. Having spent a few decades of my life around professional photographers, and having occasionally taken a family picture myself, I cringed a little at your posting. But, yes, it's true. We are all photographers now. The Kodak Brownie got the world started on this path. (There were many cameras before the Brownie, but the point is, the Brownie was created specifically for the general public to get started snapping.) You mailed in your film to Kodak, and a packet of prints was mailed back. Now, of course, we are in a digital age and you can snap away with a cellphone. Does this mean we are all becoming artists? I have sometimes puzzled over that question.