You’re Not a Photographer, You’re Just a Teenager With a Nikon

Illustration for article titled You’re Not a Photographer, You’re Just a Teenager With a Nikon

So I'm on Facebook the other day, browsing through pictures of people I went to high school with in order to make sure they aren't happier than me, and I get a notification from somebody I barely know. I'll call her "Sarah," because that's her name.


It seems that Sarah is a photographer, and she's started a Facebook photography page, which she is calling – in an apparent window into her deeply creative soul – Sarah's Photography. It also seems that Sarah has invited everyone she has ever met to "like" this page, including her friends, her family, her casual acquaintances, her preschool teacher, the guy on Craigslist who she bought her couch from, her DUI lawyer, etc.

So I decided to humor Sarah, and I checked out a few of her photos. Unfortunately, I cannot reprint them here, because – at the bottom of each image – Sarah has posted a very strict, sharply worded copyright notice using the Comic Sans font. So instead, I am going to explain them to you.


PHOTO NUMBER 1: In this photo, Sarah has captured the serene beauty of nature in a dense forest. Unfortunately, she also captured a street sign in the background, and I think you can kind of see a jungle gym. Instagram Filter: EARLYBIRD.

PHOTO NUMBER 2: In this highly original image, Sarah has captured a bowl of fruit sitting on a kitchen counter. The photo is black and white, presumably to evoke the struggle that each piece of fruit must endure in order to become ripe. Instagram Filter: INKWELL.


PHOTO NUMBER 3: Here, Sarah has photographed a homeless man on the street wheeling a shopping cart past a liquor store. The homeless man is giving her a longing, desperate look, as if he is trying to speak out against his oppression and say: "You are the seventh hipster to photograph me this week." Instagram Filter: all of them combined.

It was at this point that I realized something highly important: why is Sarah Facebook friends with the guy on Craigslist who she bought her couch from?


No, I'm just kidding. What I actually realized is that Sarah isn't really a photographer just because she created a Facebook page and snapped a few photos. In order to be a true photographer, you have to slave over your passion, and convert your basement to a darkroom, and nurture a counterculture haircut that makes Republicans stare at you on the street, and then finally, when you're about to give up, when you're ready to accept a job as an administrative assistant at a dermatology practice, your photography is selected for an art gallery in La Jolla where rich people will walk in and say: "This has just enough green to match our bathroom."

Whereas Sarah is just a kid from the suburbs who has access to a) a Nikon, and b) the 24-hour photo lab at Walgreens.


And I would tell her this, but of course I don't want to devastate the poor girl. I could only guess what would happen then. She would be hurt, depressed, disappointed. Maybe she would send me a distraught photo of herself, crying. Instagram Filter: WILLOW.

Anyway: if this Sarah's Photography thing was an isolated incident, I would move on with my life and devote this column to a far more pressing issue, like when you buy tickets to see your favorite band, and you're excited because they only cost $19, and then Ticketmaster tacks on a service fee, and a convenience charge, and a processing fee, and an electricity surcharge, and a tour bus oil change fee, and an Ambien for the lead singer upcharge, and in the end, the tickets wind up costing as much as health insurance.


But this was not an isolated incident. In fact, I've been invited to "like" dozens of Facebook photography pages over the years, and I've generally turned them all down, because – and I say this in the nicest way possible – you can really only look at so many photos of fruit on a counter before you want to gouge out your own eyes, destroy the photographer's camera, and wish for a nationwide fruit-death epidemic that ensures such a photo will never again be taken, even if it means we all get scurvy.

The worst part of these photography pages is that the friends of these people generally say encouraging, polite things so they aren't considered assholes. For example: scroll through the comments on an amateur Facebook photography page, and you'll see remarks like:

This photo is so BEAUTIFUL! It reminds me of my father, who left us when I was two.


This photo is amazing, and I can only barely see the jungle gym.

What a wonderful photo. You really help me feel the struggle of that banana.

Of course, while these comments are primarily intended to be encouraging, I assume the commenters are actually rolling their eyes at every photo. I assume the commenters are actually wondering what clichéd image will come up next. I assume the commenters are actually thinking the same things I am, namely: is a copyright notice legally enforceable if it's written in Comic Sans?


@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.

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