Who or What is a Friend?

Social network sites such as Facebook and Instagram have created new meanings for the term “friend”.

In keeping with the contemporaneousness of many things in today’s throw away society, social network friendships can be made or lost as quickly and as simply as a single left click of the mouse.

There are different criteria used by people to determine who their social media friends should be. One criterion is to obtain the maximum possible number. People using this criterion often use their large following as a money making exercise, making recommendations for products and services in their posts in exchange for recompense from the firms concerned.

Another criterion appears to be that people want their “friends” to be virtual clones of themselves. Numerous posts state that if you disagree with a certain idea or belief that someone has, you will be “unfriended”. Social media actively encourages this sort of attitude. Views held by someone are reinforced by Facebook by feeding more and more stories with the same or similar views.

This morning I read Facebook post with a photo of a completed Marriage equality survey form with the “no” box ticked. The person making the post felt the need to state that she was “sorry”, but was voting “no”. Why apologise? Well, she obviously realised that many of her Facebook “friends” would have a different viewpoint from hers. And, they surely did, and let the original poster know in a tirade of obnoxious and in some cases abusive comments in response to her post. The irony of one accusation of “intolerance” is apparently beyond the intelligence level of the accuser, who is indeed intolerant for not accepting that it is okay for others to have views different from theirs.

The world would be a boring place to be if we all thought and believed the same things. Diversity is good and should be embraced. Numerous studies have in fact shown that workplaces where diversity is encouraged are more innovative and successful, than workplaces in which things are always done the same way.

Back to the question, “who or what is a friend”? I accept that social media “friends” can be different from real friends. Even though real friends may also be social media friends. Also, I am quite comfortable for any friends of mine, regardless of how they are categorised, to have views on various subjects that are different from mine.

And, maximising the number of friends on social media. Well, to be honest I did try going down that path at one stage, particularly with my Instagram account. But, some of the practices that have been suggested to maximise numbers are to say the least unethical, and my foray into maximisation of friends and followers was short lived.

I have a smart phone, but usually use it only as a telephone and for sending and receiving SMS’s. I still have an Instagram account, but use it very infrequently. Facebook I usually check daily, some times twice daily, but I am never on it for more than about an hour at a time. It is important for us all to have a life beyond social media, and I plan on making mine that way. I will not respond to your emails straight away, because I now check them only infrequently. Facebook would like people to be available 24/7 to respond to messages. I am not going to be pressured by what I can only describe as their subtle bullying. So, if you have sent me a message on Facebook, Linkedin, Starnow or email; you can generally expect a response within forty-eight hours. If you don’t get one, and the matter to you is reasonably urgent, try sending me an SMS on 0403 543 827.

Professional Photography and Free Photo Shoots

A question I am often asked is, “how long have you been a photographer for”? An answer often given is, “around fifty years”. But, that is not really accurate. I was given my first camera by my parents before a trip to India and Pakistan back in the mid 1950’s. I still remember its brand name, it was a “Bunny”. It took rolls of 120 film, and after taking twelve shots, the film had to be rewound onto its original spool to be processed. Many different cameras I have owned and used since then. And as well as the quality of the equipment having improved markedly, I like to think that my photographic skills have also.

Photography has never been my job, but it has been a passion of mine for a very long time. As a teenager and young adult I still recall spending many evenings in my makeshift darkroom with an enlarger and trays of chemicals.

Back in those days, many people did not have cameras. Times have changed, now nearly everyone has at least one camera, and for snapshots, your smart phone is great. But, professional photographers don’t spend thousands of dollars on cameras, lenses and associated gear if smart phones can do the same job. They can not!

What is a professional? To me a professional photographer is one who has quality equipment and the expertise to use it well, and produce quality results. Others may tell you that a professional is someone who charges. But, there are photographers out there who call themselves “professional” who have very little experience and some with only entry level equipment. Some even have the audacity to try charging like wounded buffaloes for their inferior product.

Well, according to my definition, I am a professional. But, with only a few exceptions that you could count on the finger of one hand, I have not and will not charge for any of my photography sessions. I made that conscious decision years ago. Never have I wanted photography to be my job. I enjoy photography, and as I have already said, it is a passion of mine. In the past, I have sold some framed prints that were hanging on the walls of a café where I used to display some of my work. Currently, I submit some of my photography in response to briefs that have been given to an agency called Image Brief that I am associated with.

These activities have given me some return, but that is a small fraction of what I have spent, and continue to spend on equipment. I do like to have quality.

My favourite genre is portraiture. But this goes beyond photographing people posing. My preference is for photographing people involved in activities. I do ask all models I work with to complete and sign Model Release forms. These are required by Image Brief clients. If for example they want a photograph of a young child holding a puppy for a book cover for a book publisher, they need to be assured that consent had been given for the photograph. This was a brief I recently submitted to, unfortunately although I obtained some great photographs, the submission was not successful.

If you live in south-east Queensland and you would like to be involved in my photography sessions, you would be made very welcome. The only cost to you will be your time and the cost of getting to the venue involved. Information on my shoots is available on my Passionate About Photography Facebook page and my Passionate About Photography web site.

In the past I have done some pet photography, but I would like to do much more now that I have additional time available. If you have a special pet and you would like some photographs of it, or better still you with it, let me know. I include horses and other farm animals in the category of pets also. Recently I set up a web site specifically for Pet photography and also a Facebook page for pet photography. You are welcome to take a look.

The agency I submit briefs to I have already mentioned. It is Image Brief. Click on the link if you would like to see my portfolio there.