April 09, 2009

The Growing World of Self-Tography

There is a disturbing photographic trend that has only become even more disturbing as digital cameras and cell phone cameras have become more advanced and provide more mega-pixels.

I'm referring, of course, to the millions and millions of people who take self-portrait pictures while holding up a cell phone or digital camera in front of a mirror. In my most humble opinion, there is no lazier way to take a self-portrait image.

There's really no excuse for the practice, either. Practically every digital camera and camera-equipped cell phone comes equipped with a time delay option, so it's a simple matter of setting the time delay, placing the camera on a stable surface, and posing in front of the camera. At the very least, you have five seconds to get in position before the picture clicks; you'd be amazed how much you can accomplish in five seconds.

But no, people continue to aim their cameras at mirrors for their self-portrait needs or, worse, they simply hold their cameras at arm's length and take a self-portrait from that unforgivable angle.

As an act of self-expression, I guess I can sort of understand the practice. People want to show how quirky and spontaneous they are at any given moment, although it seems a lot of people tend to be quirky and spontaneous while standing in front of a bathroom mirror, which really isn't a location where I, personally, feel all that quirky and spontaneous. Come to think of it, if you're feeling quirky and spontaneous in the bathroom, you may want to see a doctor.

From an artistic standpoint, arm-length and mirror self-portraits strike me as the equivalent of Michelangelo drawing stick figures. There's all this potential for good photography being squandered in the interest of immediacy and lazy vanity. And, speaking as a journalist, I think I know a thing or two about lazy vanity. We journalists are nothing if not lazy and vane, and yet even I recognize mirror and arm-length self-portrait photos represent a whole new level of lazy vanity. I should note, in passing, that a Lazy Vanity would be a great addition to any bathroom.

You know what? Rather than criticizing arm-length and mirror self-portrait photography, I probably should be embracing a photographic practice that is obviously immensely popular. In fact, there's probably some way to make money off this, if I just put a little thought into it.

First off, I need to figure a way to market "arm-length and mirror self-portrait photography." For example, the practice needs a hip and important sounding name, something like "Self-Tography" or "Me-Portrait." Once the naming convention catches on, I can start applying for state and federal dollars to help fund this fledgling modern art technique. I imagine a good start-up fund of $400,000 should be a good base from which to grow Self-Tography and inspire young and enthusiastic artists.

That initial art endowment should be re-infused annually with $250,000 more, which I assure you will only go towards refining Self-Tography techniques and maybe establishing an annual awards ceremony to honor those who have taken the best Me-Portraits over the preceding year.

Yes, rather than criticize the lazy act of taking your picture in front of a mirror or at arm's length, I should definitely look into ways to profit from it. After all, profiting off lazy and vane people has always proven to be a sound business practice.

Posted by Ryan at April 9, 2009 07:07 AM | TrackBack
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