Saturday, November 27, 2010

Black Friday Redux

A year ago yesterday, I began my "career" as a "photographer". I didn't have a real camera, just a joke camera from the pawn shop, but I hauled myself out of bed on Black Friday 2009 for a self-imposed assignment--I wanted to contribute some pictures to a photo contest called Picture Black Friday, documenting capitalism gone wild. Since I didn't have any spending money myself, it was really the only way I could participate in the consumerist orgy. I went to Macy's (formerly Marshall Field's) on State Street, a place that I feel to be the belly of the beast here in Chicago. There are other, more frantic shopping emporiums, but Macy's remains the most opulent and the most slavishly traditional.

I forgot to submit the photographs I took, but the experience ignited a small passion for photography. My dad was (is) an amateur photographer who subjected my siblings and I to highly irritating posed photography when I was a kid, and I've always felt a bit ambivalent about picture-taking, though I knew I'd probably be good at it if I ever gave it any sincere effort. Over the last year, I did manage to land one paying job, shooting papparazzi-style pictures at a teenage indie-rock club in Berlin for 40 euros. And I've gotten some satisfaction documenting things that I feel should be properly documented, like the beet harvest in North Dakota or the queer festival in Copenhagen. I've enjoyed taking pictures, though I still have a certain ambivalence toward photography in general.

I decided to go back out to Macy's this year to revisit the Black Friday thing and see whether I've made any progress as a photographer. Actually, I don't think I have! I think my eye was fresher and more excitable last year, before I thought about what I was doing. Now I've started thinking about composition and all that nonsense. But I'll post a few anyway. If you're interested or bored enough to compare, last year's pictures are posted in my Flickr account, linked near the top of this page.

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