I Am a Camera

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I’ve never been much of a photographer. I honestly think the problem is one of assertiveness. Taking photos of the world around you requires some chutzpah, some “balls.” To take a photo of a stranger, or even a tree requires you to step into the space of someone or something, and “take” an image for yourself. Even the the concept of “shooting” a photo sounds aggressive. This is the same type of anxiety that prevents me from kissing a woman on a first date. It just seems too forward.

Susan Sontag, in her famous book On Photography, wrote “To photograph people is to violate them… It turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed… Essentially the camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own.”

For most of my life, I have left the photography for others. My place was always sitting in the corner with a pad and pen. Now I say, “Phooey!” It is time for a change.

Yesterday, I opened up a Flickr account.

Can you believe that I’ve been blogging for over a year and have never investigated your Flickr pages? What fun. I’ve been stalking you all day. There you are! Photos of you. With your friends. With your family. Half-naked. What a treat to see you outside of your blogging lives.

I’ve already added a few of you as “contacts.” Don’t feel obligated to make me your contact. There is nothing of interest on my site as of yet. I don’t even own a digital camera. Can anyone suggest one in the $200 range? I took Alison‘s suggestion and tested a few models for the “feel” of the camera. I definitely like the bulkier ones with the grip.

One camera that clearly struck my imagination was the HP Photosmart R967.

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This model is one of their new models that contains a “slimming feature” (via Big Fat Blog). After taking photo, you can use a slider on the camera to “instantly trim of pounds from the subjects in your photos!”

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Call me old-fashioned, but I always thought the aim of personal photography was to “capture” reality. I even remember learning in art history classes in college that Impressionism and Expressionism were direct reactions to the way photography could better show the real world than a painting. Don’t we expect a photo to somehow reflect reality? Isn’t it going to be weird showing the photos of your size-8 body when you’re standing there holding the photos in your size-14 body? Do you really want people to say to you, “You look wonderful in that photo even though I know it is mostly the camera’s slimming effect and in reality you are twenty-five pounds more! Is this the ultimate solution for our obesity problem — showing photos to each other of us looking thin and making believe it is “reality?” I can understand putting an old photo of yourself on Match.com, since no one really knows you there, but who are you going to be fooling with your slimmer personal photos? Your co-workers? Your mother? Yourself?

And what type of message are we giving our already anorexic-obsessed teenagers?

But who I am to stop modern technology and human vanity? Who doesn’t want to look better on film? I’d be a hypocrite to speak against photographic manipulation. Remember the time I “whitened my teeth” in Photoshop for my profile pic (see sidebar photo)? What’s wrong with wanting to look how you want to look?

With this new attitude, I went over to Circuit City to explore some of the other cameras with new features like that of the HP Photosmart R967. It was an eye-opening experience.

I was greatly impressed with the Canon PowerShot B900 and it’s brand new “colorizing” feature.

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I’ve always thought that black people were much “cooler” than white people. I think that’s why so many white suburban kids love rap and “inner city” fashion. Wouldn’t it be great to show how “cool” you were to your friends — at least on film?

Here I am this morning. Pretty dull, huh?

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Here I am after using the “colorizing” filter!

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And it’s so easy!

The Nikon Coolpix N7 is perfect for the struggling Mommyblogger or Daddyblogger family.

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Don’t you hate it when all you can afford is a cheap vacation to Legoland when your neighbors are taking the whole family to some resort in Maui? With just one click of Canon’s GWC (Great Wall of China) switch, impress your friends and neighbors.

Go from boring Legoland —

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— to a family adventures in the mysterious Orient, right in the camera!

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Finally, many of use our digital cameras for more personal pursuits. On Friday night, I was feeling a little alone, so I decided to email Charming But Single some photos I took of myself that I thought might “arouse” her interest. For some reason, I never heard back from her and she deleted me from her blogroll. But things would have been different if I had owned the exciting new Olympus SE-490.

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This new Olympus contains the trademarked Expando-filter. It is absolutely brilliant. Now you can make any object larger with the click of a button.

Look at this photograph I took on one of my vacations. Nice, but not very impressive.

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1-2-3 and presto!

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With the Olympus, Friday night might have turned out very differently.

Ansel Adams, eat your heart out!

(tonight and tomorrow is Yom Kippur. If you celebrate the holiday, have an easy fast. My Yom Kippur post from last year is here).

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59 Responses to I Am a Camera

  1. Neil says:

    Fitena — Oh, man, if I shaved WITHOUT my glasses — you don’t want to see what would happen.

  2. rach says:

    It’s amazing what colourising filters can do. You are transformed, lol

  3. claire says:

    Love the feature coverage, Neil. I don’t own a digital camera yet either, but I have come across a lot of good review sites online that let you search by price, features, etc.

    I’m kinda on the move just now, but if you’re interested in those, drop me a line and I’ll send ‘em to ya.

  4. deannie says:

    Oh Neil…I just loved this post. When I first saw the “slimming” camera from HP, this hot guy I know said he didn’t want one since it was more important to make things appear LARGER. Now I can point him here and he can get ummm, you know, enlarged.

  5. kapgar says:

    Forget the slimming feature. Did you see what they had to fix photos on Ugly Betty last night? Dayamn. Better than Photoshop even!

    Made me laugh how ridiculous it was.

  6. Neil says:

    Kapgar — have it Tivo-ed for later! I’d also like to get the camera that makes hamburgers look twice as big and tasty as what you actually get in Burger King.

  7. Akaky says:

    First, I wonder how come none of my colorizing filters will do that for me. It must be the digital aspect of it; this sort of thing probably doesnt work in film. Second, yes, before Neil starts mocking me, I still use film. My only thinning feature, beyond the hair on the top of my head, is to take the photo in such a way that I somehow manage to slice the subject in half. Obviously, this method is not as effective as Neil’s thinning method, but it works pretty well in a pinch.

  8. Akaky says:

    And you took your cholesterol medicine today, didnt you, Neil? You are eating something other than doughnuts, right?

  9. Neil says:

    Yes, Akaky, and my cholesterol went down. I even thanked you in a later post.

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