A million years ago (well, 1978) I was at the Museum of Modern Art in New York enjoying an exhibition put together by then-curator John Szarkowski entitled “Mirrors and Windows.” The thesis of the exhibition was that photography was either a mirror of what was around the photographer or a window into the photographer’s or subject’s reality or worldview. It was an extraordinary exhibition of some of the greatest photographs by some of the greatest photographers (Dorthea Lange, Gene Smith, Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander; you get the idea).
As I check popurls every morning (one of my morning rituals), I’m always a little taken aback by some of the images on the flickr feed. Many are very good photographs, but the thing that often strikes me is how intimate some of them are, and I’m not speaking just conceptually. Some of them are almost exhibitionistic; many are striking windows into a person’s life. Which makes me wonder: is this part of electronic engagement good or bad? And (I’m almost ashamed to admit this) the marketer in me wonders if there’s any part of this that impacts marketing? Is it too private? Or are these people who really want to share bits of themselves with the world and would be happy to be points of marketing foci? Are these the iJustine’s of the world and are doing it for art? Or are they doing it for attention? And then, how far away is the idea of doing it for commerce (and Justine, for example, may be all of the above.)