Look at Me! No. Look at You!

Photos Delivered Here in 3 Minutes, by Patrick Haney, c. 2007.

Toward the end of a long day last week, tired of looking at and thinking about still pictures, I decided to take a break to check out what kinds of videos about photography had been posted on YouTube. The key word "photo" yielded 885,000 videos and feeling a little daunted, I started scanning the first couple of hundred to see what turned up. All the how-to videos about technical issues were pretty much what you’d expect them to be. I was surprised, and after a while I wasn’t, by the volume of videos uploaded to document—and further publicize—the process of celebrity photo shoots. And while videos that collect and animate sequences of self-portraits, shot one-a-day, have become a cliché, one that crammed 17 years worth of self-regard into a couple of minutes seemed almost as poignant as it is narcissistic.

Interestingly, the video that was the most fun to watch was a Tonight Show riff (made during Jay Leno’s reign) on the classic Candid Camera stunt of photographing people when they least expect it. But in this case, the inadvertent featured players were photographed as they entered a photo booth and as the supposedly automated camera started telling them exactly what to do . . .

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