Sorry I’ve been missing for a while. I’m here and have just been busy. I recently started doing a lot more German to English translation, and have been teaching more online English lessons on my days off, so life has been pretty hectic. Oh, and we’re taking a short trip for Mark’s birthday next week, so we’ve been planning for that. And I haven’t even edited my film from England yet.
I have a few book posts to write as I’ve still been reading (and listening) on my way to work, but I need to write about something that is bothering me lately.
I always try to stick to the ‘do unto others’ guideline, and I found myself straying from it this past week. I was recently contacted by someone I used to know from my hometown. As children, we played together sometimes since we lived close, and shared a mutual friend. But as we grew older and the friend (who was older than us) left school, we drifted apart. Add to this all of the typical ‘she was with the popular crowd and I was not’ bs that comes with normal childhood relationships, and you’ve just about got it.
I don’t think we ever disliked each other. We just weren’t friends and didn’t run into each other all that much once we got into high school.
And that’s where I want to slow down for a moment. When I was in high school, I was in the art club and on the set-building committee. These two places are basically where all of the ‘art kids’ gathered. As half of my classes in my senior and junior years were art classes (since I was working on going to Art College), I was in those rooms and knew just about all of the art kids who were in my year and the years surrounding me. And I never saw her.
Maybe just about the only time I saw her was on the bus before we all started driving to school, or when our groups converged at random parties.
But the thing about it here that I want to stress is that I never saw her, not once, in any art-related activity.
Of course, now we’re getting into our mid-30’s and Facebook is a solid part of life, and she found me and wanted to add me as a friend.
I went to go have a look at her profile, and I saw a ton of selfies. Instagram, filtered, selfies. Maybe not Instagram, but that can be used as an adjective these days. And then I saw that she’s a ‘photographer’. And she had a website. And I went to it. On it, she is charging for her work, which I find mediocre at best.
And this is where I got angry, and this is where I’m having trouble with myself.
I had such a horrible experience with girls in school. They were so mean. After I got to college, I made an active decision to change and NEVER be that way towards women (even though my real, deeply hidden thoughts on some people come out when I’m drunk occasionally). I surrounded myself with strong women who felt the same, and since then, it’s all been great. I have amazing and supportive female friends, and we don’t talk shit or start drama.
But when I saw her website, and her photos, I got so angry. I’m not sure why.
If I had to examine the feelings, layer by layer, they would be:
How dare you.
You’re not an artist.
You never had (or seemed to have) any interest in art back then.
Your photos aren’t that good.
Your website is crap and I hate the typeface you chose. It’s so typical of a non-artist.
I think you’re using filters.
Do you even know how to load film into a camera? How to process your own film and print photos in a darkroom? I bet you don’t.
Do you even know how to set aperture? Or are you just using the ‘portrait’ function on your camera?
You are co-opting the artist look and act to be ‘different’. I think.
I bet you love Anne Geddes.
An expensive digital camera doesn’t make you a photographer.
I can’t believe you’re charging for this.
How dare you call yourself an artist.
But actually, how dare I. I think.
I should be supporting my sisters and helping them along, not cutting them down. I don’t feel threatened. I think I’m just annoyed. I hate when people who didn’t study art have the audacity to call themselves artists. And who am I to say that? Who am I to make that decision? There’s an entire museum in Baltimore devoted to ‘outsider art’, or ‘art by people who were not classically trained to be artists’.
I get so angry when people start carrying around an expensive camera and calling themselves photographers. Especially now in the age of everything digital, it’s just so easy. People who have never even held a camera calling themselves photographers because they have an Instagram account. People taking photos of puppies and homeless people and calling themselves artists. The guys who hire ‘models’ to come to their apartments for nude photo shoots because (and someone actually said this to me once) ‘it’s an easy way to get a girl naked on your bed‘. FUCK. YOU.
I know on one hand I have every right to be angry and annoyed, about something or everything. But on the other hand I have no right to be annoyed. Yes, I worked to become a better artist and I make art and I sell photos and all that. But some people don’t know what they want to be until they are so much older. I can’t be mad at anyone for finally being able to self-reflect and try something new. Maybe I just did it sooner.
I majored in Graphic Design and hated it. I moved to Photography because it was the thing I truly loved and the thing that made me happy, and thankfully I realized it before I left art college, and I could make the change. But maybe I was just early. Maybe everyone else is just getting around to realizing they can be creative. Maybe digital cameras have made more people photographers because manual cameras were just too confusing.
I want to stay angry and be mad at her but I don’t think I should. I think I should add her as a friend and try to support her, and maybe try to inspire her to get into a darkroom and *really* experience photography, fixer on your fingers and all.
Am I a terrible person for being so angry at her?