Saturday, June 24, 2017

You're Still Not a Photographer

Nor are you a web designer, or a journalist, or for that matter a media outlet. You ain't The New York Times or ABC or even Vice media.

I saw this Go Daddy ad the other day, and it set me off ... again. And I apologize in advance, but really this is the very problem with the modern culture.

There have always been things people seem to think anyone could do if given the chance, like politics. And there have been things that people often carry around as a dream that they could do, if they only practiced or tried hard enough, like athletics or music. Whole industries have been built around the latter, involving things like Baseball Camp and "American Idol."

But modern technology now makes us think we actually can do a lot of things -- or anything it seems -- just because this gizmo or that service makes it so simple.

I previously ranted about a Nikon ad like this (among other things) which implies, or rather outright says that a fancy camera can make annoying actor Ashton Kutcher just as good as a professional fashion photographer who has spent his entire life reaching his professional position.

The Go Daddy ad is much the same ... including coincidentally an annoying character: a personification of The Internet. Sure, personifying the internet is a cute idea, but it all ends with the implication that you don't really need to actually know what you're doing or learn anything to make great web sites.

Much as I said about the Nikon ad: sure, the concept makes sense. Give us your money and we'll make you an instant genius. So give us your money. But life just doesn't work that way, children. Wishes very, very rarely come true just by wishing.

Remember all those hilariously embarrassing auditions by the deluded on "American Idol?" Or that moment in so many stories when the guy realizes that, even though he wanted more than anything to be a pro baseball player, he just doesn't have the natural talent ... no matter how hard he works? It's time we understood that about a lot of other stuff.

Go ahead, use the Go Daddy software to build your website. It'll look fine. It'll be good enough. 'Cause that what you want, something that's ... okay.

Or maybe not. I saw a video at a public event not long ago. It looked like the person in charge had dumped a bunch of stills into one of those automatic programs and let 'er rip. It was awful. It went too long, it had no structure or flow, it glitched. Even as parents looked at photos of their beloved children, they began to squirm. But the video's creator thought it would work, because that program said it could help you make a video just like the pros.

However, I do have some hope, and oddly I place it in the hands of the cliche of our decade, the Hipsters.

An aspect of the Hipster fascination with the past -- with things like Steampunk, and crypto-Victorian beards, and hand-crafted food, and so on -- is a fascination with authenticity. Old typewriters and locally sourced food are products of hand work to produce the real thing.  The real thing is, well, real. It requires knowledge, talent, and practice. You can't just decide you want to be a real family farmer, sign on to some software program or buy a gizmo and be it. It takes time, effort, learning, and dedication.

Which finally brings me to the point: Real Life requires work. You just have to work at it. 10,000 hours adds up to 416 (and a little more) days. That's if you do something 24/7. Let's say you do it a more reasonable, if incredibly dedicated, 8 hours a day (that's 1,250 days), five days a week (250 weeks). 250 weeks = a little less than 5 years. Again, if you do it for 8 hours a day, every day, like a job. And that's just to become good at something ... as the story, which might be a myth (like the 10% of the brain thing), goes.

But, as I have said before, let's say you really work at something. You build a career of it. You endure failure and enjoy success as you progress through your work, and you reach a level where you are considered a legitimate professional. Not a star, not a champion, not the top of your field, just a professional. Don't you deserve some respect for that? Respect that indicates that not just anyone can show up one day and be what you are after years of work?

So, you are not a web designer just because you used some free software. You are not a chef because you watched a cooking show and made a tasty dinner. And you are not a photographer because you bought a fancy camera or clever smart phone.