Social Photographing

It's a pretty lame title, but the concept is a lot of fun. 

About 5-6 years ago, maybe more, I belonged to a photography forum which had members from all corners of the globe.  Over a period of years we'd gotten to know each other, names, where we lived, our favorite places to photograph, and even about our families.


Crater Lake Oregon

Nikon D2h, 12-24mm F4  @F11  12mm  ISO 200


We were always sharing images on this forum, and for sure we had a great time knowing each other.  But we wanted to take it a step further.  A step to make our socializing one step more personal and two steps more meaningful.

Someone came up with the idea that he'd buy a couple disposable digital cameras, and after making a list of who wanted to participate he would ship the cameras to the first person on the list.

The person who received the cameras would then take them on their next outing to their 'signature' location, a place we already associated this person by the images they'd already shared.  While there, they'd use the cameras to take exactly two images.  One from each camera.  They'd photograph their signature location.


Crater Lake Oregon, summer months

Nikon D2h, 12-24mm F4  @F11  14mm  ISO 200


Keep in mind these are very simple cameras, not the expensive DSLRs most of us owned.  There were no controls to speak of, no adjustments, we'd just have to wait for the right light and do our best.  Once the two photographs were taken, the cameras would be packed up and sent on to the next person on the list.

A few fun and unplanned things happened with this process.  As each person received the box with the cameras, the outer layer of paper was very carefully cut away and saved.  After, the cameras were packed back in the box and the original outer layer of paper was reused to cover the box.  This outer layer of paper soon accumulated stamps, postmarks, and customs stamps from over 50 countries!  How fun is that?

This process took well over a year before the cameras were returned to the first person.  During this year we wanted to see some progress along the way, and in the forum the person who had most recently received the cameras would let everyone know they received them.  They'd then take them to their signature place, take the two photographs, and then find some creative way to photograph the cameras themselves using our DSLRs.  We'd then post those photos in the forum to keep everyone up to date and excited about a fun project which was taking a long time to accomplish.


Crater Lake Oregon

Nikon D2h, 12-24mm F4  @F11  12mm  ISO 200


Amazingly the two disposable cameras made it back to the start.  It took close to two years.  He took the cameras and had them "developed" to prints, because that's how they worked.. and then he scanned the prints and made a large gallery with all the images the two cameras captured, and all the images of the two cameras we took with out DSLRs.

The gallery was a huge success.  You felt part of something special, and indeed it was special.  Looking at all the pictures, a photo of the battered box returned home, the outer layer of paper cut away and laid flat and photographed, as you looked over everything and realized the accomplishment of what just happened, it felt special.


Crater Lake Oregon, Bangkok Images

Nikon D2h, 12-24mm F4  @F11  16mm  ISO 200


Over 50 individuals who had never met and didn't owe anyone anything, at their own expense, their own time, went to great amounts of effort and inconvenience in some cases, to share their love of photography with each other.  50 people from almost as many countries cooperating and sharing something they loved.

Social Photographing.  Will you be the person to start such a project in your circle?


Crater Lake Oregon, Photographs

Nikon D2h, 12-24mm F4  @F11  12mm  ISO 200



Until next time..



I'm writing this at the last minute.  I've just become aware of a practice at a local camera store which would be illegal in a western country, and is at least highly unethical here in Thailand.

I loaded up on baht and went to Mall Bangkapi on Ladphrao to purchase a camera and lens and two extra batteries.  This store located on the 1st floor (one up from ground level) is a professional camera sales store, the only one in the mall. 

I was surprised and taken aback that their noses turned up at me when I walked in the store.  They didn't want to talk with me. "The price is the price" they said, no deals, no extras, no promotions.  Ok I think, small differences.  They write down the prices of the items.  89,800 for the camera, 56,400 for the lens, and 4500 for the spare battery.  4500 for the spare battery?  The suggest retail on this battery is 2200 baht and I bring this to their attention.  I'm given a very ugly look and told that's the price, it wouldn't change.

I tried to talk to them about it, but they insisted on charging over twice the retail price for the battery.  I've since double checked the price to make sure I was correct.  I was.  I mentally noted the prices on many other accessories and checked them when I got home.  It appears this store is grossly over charging for accessories after making the customer comfortable by offering reasonable prices on the bigger items.  This is a practice certain New York stores used to try and get away with, and many still employ this questionable practice.

I walked.  A customer has to be willing to walk away from a deal, even if it inconveniences them.  It wasn't the extra 4600 baht I would have lost.. it was more than that.  It was the principal, that they treated me like crap, and that they wouldn't talk about it.  I was going to spend in excess of 150,000 baht in their store, right then.  Instead I spent 0 baht.

Tomorrow I'll look for a new place where I spend huge amounts of money every year on equipment, and a new place to recommend to my readers, and a new place that knows the value of a customer. 

Enough said.