Tierney,

Your article starts out tongue in cheek and gets cheeky. It’s almost self-deprecating at the start. Clever. But, yeah, it really is about narcissism.

There has always been content, a word that leaves little room to discern good taste and the authority to define it. Content seems to be anything and everything that fills up one’s screen and dilutes what’s really worth seeing and appreciating. Not even the absence of any kind of criterion for taste at all, makes the effect of an onslaught of camera-wielding tyros rise to the level of an “Age.” If at all, it’s more like the Age of Dilution.

This article, sprinkled with sophomoric photo tips, doesn’t teach how to be a better shooter, whether to depict girlfriends, gayfriends, boyfriends, or any kind of friend; just how to be a better sycophant to a narcissist. If I’ve missed something, so be it; but I’m afraid too many readers will take this seriously enough to be disposed to add to the toilet’s overflow of crappy pictures. Whoops! Let me walk that back: snapshots.

I’ve photographed women all my life. (Men too.) I can make anyone look beautiful; that’s a commercial (i.e., professional) trick. I can also make it real. Beauty is, of course, not skin deep, no matter how graceful or frisky you feel during the “golden hour.”

Speaking of real, The vast preponderance of “content creators,” people who enjoy illustrating what they ate for breakfast to a close circle of friends, are not influencers per se. You do allude to influencers. It’s a job description. It earns them income. I’m not trying to disparage any porridge paparazzi, but millions of social media snapshots cannot accomplish what one commercial photographic illustrator can do, even pretending to be an influencer, to get you to buy a brand of breakfast cereal.

Influencers with large followings are often supported by ad agencies that employ ringers to shoot pictures that look like user-generated content. But it is not UGC. Many of these photos are created by pros, hired for their ability to reliably produce an “amateur-looking aesthetic.” My point is that social media is just another medium for advertisers who pay pro photographers to create content the traditional way.

I’ve coined a word for the way photographs are used on Social Media: pixting. Pixting is to photography as texting is to literature. It means engaging in perfunctory conversation by utilizing pictures instead of words across a digital medium. It’s visual smalltalk; the appropriation of a one hundred and seventy-year-old technology called photography for visual chitchat.

Savor the moment! Always good advice. It’s better enjoyed, as you imply, when shared with a receptive and compassionate mate. If it’s worth memorializing, hire someone who knows what he’s doing! Or her. Search online for a decent “boudoir photographer.” (That’s a wedding photographer during off hours.) Your iPhone 8 Plus or X in portrait mode, with its dual LENSES and 12-megapixel SENSOR, is still going to make its user look like an amateur, if its user is an amateur.

Respectfully yours,

Written by

ARTREPRENEUR, PHOTOGRAPHER, CLARINETIST, MOTORCYCLIST Fate follows the path of least resistance. Success follows the path of maximum persistence.

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