by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning and if nothing else, you have to admit I'm consistent. Reflections has become a weekly ritual. If you're new to the SCU blog, be warned, there's no telling how far off-track from photography, marketing or business I might stray!
I ran a post about this Rangefinder cover two years ago. I found it this week in some old files. I decided it was perfect to make a point about the changes we're all going through as a result of the pandemic and social distancing.
The short backstory about the image goes back to my Rangefinder Magazine days. The photographer was Damien Bredberg, and the image won him Editorial Photographer of the Year in Australia in 2004. Adding to the fun of the backstory, it was his father, who was the model.
Within a week or two of being published, I started getting hate mail and even a nasty phone call. The call came from a reader in Arkansas who called me a "porn-monger," and claimed his granddaughter was emotionally crippled by seeing the cover when she went to get the mail. Then came a woman who ripped off the cover and mailed it to me, claiming her magazine was now better for the change. Last on the list was a woman who wrote, "May the view from the back of this motorcycle rider be your just reward!"
And that takes me to my point today - Most of us have been in some form of lockdown for over two months. In the process, we've become overly sensitive. We don't ask for clarification when we don't understand what somebody wrote or said.
Then we open the door for more stress. We listen to the news and believe the media. We believe what we read - after all, if it's on the Internet, it must be true. Anxiety and frustration, combined with genuinely missing human contact, is taking its toll on our smile muscles. Our happy gene has atrophied.
Notice I used "we" in the above reference? None of us are above the impact controlled isolation is having. I repeatedly have to catch myself from being overly sensitive. Sheila and I help each other stay grounded along with two puppies that drag us off to the happy zone, whether we want to go or not.
Things are not going to return to normal magically, but we can get better on dealing with the new normal. Stay in touch with friends via Zoom, Skype, Facetime - whatever it takes to get face to face contact. Use your phone more, not to text, but to call. The printed word is the most challenging way to communicate, but throw in the tone of your voice, and it's the next best thing to being with somebody.
We're part of an amazing industry. Even with the restrictions created by the pandemic, things haven't changed in the need for people to capture and share memories.
I used to show that RF cover as one of my last slides any time I was teaching, and my words are still relevant:
Stop taking life so seriously and just have fun with everything you're doing!
If you're not smiling for most of your day as a photographer then you're doing something wrong!
Don't let "fun" be one of those lost words buried under the stress of the pandemic. It takes work, but it's so worth keeping it active in your vocabulary.
Wishing everybody a day of fun, and in the US a long holiday weekend and time to catch up to friends, even if it's only on a Skype call. And those long hugs I used to write about - they'll come back some day. In the mean time, keep building on the foundation of friendships and love you have with those people most special in your life.
Happy Sunday...and Monday to friends on the other side of the world.
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.