From A mort l'infini by Philippe Mayaux, Centre Pompidou, Paris, July 2007

Hey – Please Stop Taking These Six Types of Photos

A brief open letter and unsolicited recommendation to travel and lifestyle bloggers, photographers, Instagrammers and Facebookers who are vying for my shrinking attention on social media: please stop taking stupid photos.

Most specifically:

  • Of your feet, bare or otherwise, either dangling near the edge of a cliff or pool, sprouting from the sand on a beach, or at the narrow end of a hammock pointing towards a sunset. Nobody wants to see them.
  • The blogger portrait with back to the camera, arms raised high, like a modern-day Moses or latter-day Rocky, looking over a scene you either didn’t capture very well, or are blocking if you did. Unless you’re hoping to inspire me to punch the unfollow button — then you’ve succeeded.
  • The digital nomad/ luxury travel blogger/ global entrepreneur shot of you sipping a cocktail or lying in a hammock on an apparently secluded beach somewhere that might or might not be southeast Asia. The few people who believed the hype don’t anymore.
  • That “spontaneous” shot of your cup of coffee (that’s gotten too cold to enjoy) that’s sitting between your laptop (whose battery died during your shoot) and a hip reprint of a classic book (that you haven’t read).

And to burgeoning street photographers:

  • Shots of strangers on the street talking on their mobile phones. That may have been edgy in 1994. It’s not anymore. Triple yawn.

And to everyone:

  • Selfies. Yeah, I know, I’m not the first to drone on against the wind about this. And I know that people trying to tell you how to build your brand have convinced you that I want to see photos of you eating, drinking, sunbathing and working out. But I don’t. Nobody does. But if you think you can truly live and experience a moment by turning your back to it in return for a few dozen likes, who am I to stop you?

A camera is an incredible tool. Challenge yourself to use it creatively.

Today’s lead photo?

If you guessed that the thing on the back wall of the mirrored reflection is a penis with flippers crawling to a piece of land a la Darwin wrapped in a boa-type thing, congratulations. You’re right. I think.

This was part of “A mort l’infini“, a July 2007 exhibit by Philippe Mayaux, winner of the 2006 Prix Marcel Duchamp, in Espace 315 at the Centre Pompidou (snapped quickly and surreptitiously when attendants weren’t watching). This room housed “Tastings of her,” a collection of body parts (not real, of course), sliced and diced and laid out and displayed on fine porcelain.

Said Mayaux:

I use bad taste in order to express my undisciplined freedom regarding what has to be beautiful. The sole function of artwork is to be seen, not to please.

The mirror is the outside wall of a small room which housed a similarly off-color collection of mounted hog noses.

Now, wasn’t that much more interesting than a snapshot of my feet on a beach?




  • 87
More Stories
Recuerdo Profundo by Jimenez Deredia
Scab Cab Ride