I think when I was born, I greeted the taxi cab driving OBGYN with a tripod and a bag filled with cameras, batteries, lights, and of course the mandatory Director’s ‘oh-so-cool’ beret. As a little older kid, my parents let me shoot 8mm FILM and fire off hot flash bulbs at terrified neighbors and singed pets. Of course the camera-play intensified when my own kid came along, but even before that I used to videotape Mexican weddings for a little extra cash after college. I think the Mexican’s liked me because I would work for tamales and live chickens, and despite my best effort to follow along in Spanish, they were fairly confident that if they did not like something I was doing, they could talk behind my back, but right in front of me.
I always tried to do a good job and for the most part succeeded at fooling people that I was a capable videographer. Truly the point of any photo or video though is to simply ‘REMEMBER’ the moment, so even when the end results are not always perfect, usually, they are still better than having nothing at all. The only wedding photos I have are in moldy old albums that were damaged in a flood. I keep the musty things because I can still make out my wife’s head through the melted emulsion in some of the shots. So who cares if I pan too quickly, set up a photo with the sun facing me, or pose a shot with a giant streetlight growing out of somebody’s head. Those shots will still jog a memory and who knows, they might be in a museum someday because I am clearly the granddaddy of ‘bad’ photography.
With the throwaway digital camera invasion and so many social sharing sites, now it seems that EVERYONE has joined my club though. Apparently the whole world now thinks they have the right to go around taking lousy pictures of themselves and their friends. Curiously, I don’t remember getting any ‘high fives’ or nary a nod of acknowledgement as to my revered place in the hallowed halls of ‘awful-tography’? Doesn’t anyone still go down to the mall or a photo studio to do formal portraits anymore except for weddings? I think even my last passport photo was done with some cheap digital cam by a grumpy postal worker. Thank goodness for my police ‘booking’ photos or I’d never get any decent headshots for our family album.
The world seems awash with a plethora of self-inflicted and overexposed ‘vampire’ family portraits these days. You know those photos – they are the ones where nobody has a skin tone deeper than the shade of milk and their eyes all glow red. Or how about the ubiquitous ‘long arm’ self-portrait – how many of those has my own kid taken and proudly posted for the whole world to see? With the advent of online media sites like ‘YouBoob’, ‘FaceBucket’ and ‘TwitSpace’, shaky fast-pan videos and blurry headshots, seek to quell the world’s insatiable hunger for bad photographic content. Gee do you think I may have passed along the ‘bad photog’ gene on to my daughter? Isn't there some kind of ‘PAParazzi’ smear test to determine such things, as I did inadvertently sneeze on her camera once during a dive for the Kleenex box. I’m not too worried though, with a little luck my photogenetically challenged ‘bad blood’ will skip a generation and miss my kid altogether. You see, I always tried to spare her the embarrassment of my ‘shortcomings’, so I gave those away with the bowling shirts and my REALLY ‘BAD JEANS' to Goodwill.