Sunday, January 08, 2012

Shoes and Photography

Shoes in the Closet

Look in the corner of any guy's closet and you'll find a small pile of shoes. Shoes that usually span about a decade, give or take a few years. This is the corner of my closet. At the lower left you'll find a pair of waterproof deck shoes that my late Uncle Tommy wore and that were given to me by my aunt. Next to them are my Skechers slip-on, and then surrounding them a few pairs of lace-up Rockports. All of them size 12 wide.

I decided to go back and photograph them because I'd read a tweet from a Proper Photographer who sagely tweeted how they didn't get 365 day photo projects "when people shoot their lunch, their shoes, and other stuff like that." Suitably inspired, I mounted an FL-50R on my E-P2, went back into the closet, flipped the head around on the flash for bounce, pulled out the wide-angle diffuser, and fired off a few quick photos of my shoes in my closet, choosing this as the best of the best.

While not quite the same thing as Arab shoe tossing, or shoefeti, or some other form of shoe tossing, it is a bit of a nose thumbing (virtual) at what I have begun to perceive as an elitist attitude towards the iPhone/Hipstamatic slinging masses who are so enamored with the results, they seem to be setting Proper Photographer's teeth on edge. And the Proper Photographers are expressing great umbrage and potent snarkiness (or at least they perceive it as potent) at this current trend.

My simple answer to all these aggrieved Proper Photographers is to loosen up. As I look dispassionately at both sides, I see excellent talent making fun of those who want to enjoy photography simply with equipment far less expensive and complicated than what they use. It's the second group exhibiting innocent enthusiasm and enjoyment that is apparently annoying the first. The first group comes across as a jaded field of Professional Photographers who've invested tens of thousands of dollars into Proper Photographic Equipment over the years, if not decades, of their professional lives, and now feel threatened by this simple enthusiastic outburst. I don't know why.

My advice to the Proper Photographers who find themselves annoyed with the iPhone/Hipstamatic slinging masses is to either ignore them, or better yet, simply embrace them. iPhones and Hipstamatic will never replace what they've got, neither talent or technique, hype to the contrary. It's not that it's beneath them, but their constant criticism is. Sooner or later some percentage of the iPhone/Hipstamatic will want to advance beyond this stage, and if the Proper Photographers have built the right 'bridge' to this group, that group will turn to them for advice, and just possibly, be willing to spend money learning from them. There's also something to be said for a camera that allows the user to install software on that camera to add new capabilities. There's plenty to benefit from on both sides as long as both sides are willing to be open minded, especially the pros.

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