Don’t Kill Your Idols

Dear friend,

It’s been almost three years, since I first started to share some of my work online. I have used Flickr, Tumblr and I have deleted my Instagram account twice. Maybe at some point I will write some of my thoughts on social media and how I use them. Flickr is the main platform I currently use to show my ongoing project, as I thing it suits me fine for that purpose. But as I said I don’t want to talk about social media. What I want to do is talk about people’s attitude when on social media.

As I said, I have been using Flickr for almost three years now. During these years there was one user that I blocked and one user that blocked me. The first was an internet troll and blocking him was the only way I could find to deal with his situation. The second was a guy I came across in a street photography group. The guy was at his 50s and you could easily tell that from the photographs on his profile page. I don’t mean his profile picture; I mean the photos in his profile with him, his wife, his kids, his friends and so on.

Well, this gentleman had posted a photograph of his so called “past film days”, when everything was pure and photography was an art and so on. And it was a beautiful image. Great colors, solid composition, an excellent example of color street photography. But, it WASN’T his. When I saw the photograph I recognized Helen Levitt’s “Cat Next To Red Car”. The guy had 99+ favorites, although he had less than 500 followers and his other pictures would not get more than 10 favorites on average. At first, I must say that I was a bit happy and satisfied that people could still tell the difference between a good photograph and a bad one, but then I commented something like “It’s not cool to take credit for someone else’s work” and posted a link to the original photograph and Helen Levitt’s biography. Next thing I know, my comment was deleted and I was blocked from his profile.

I get it now: people are on social media to be famous and it sure feels nice to have a lot of followers and get thousands of likes and comments and so on, even at the age of fifty. But come on, you cannot take credit for someone else’s photograph. Especially, when that “someone else” is Helen Levitt or any other photographer who has been an influence for so many people and, as it seems, for yourself. We owe these people so much. Don’t you get it? You should know better.  You just don’t kill your idols…

Until next time,

Dimitris

helen-levitt-cat-next-to-red-car-new-york-1973

Helen Levitt, “Cat Next To Red Car, NY, 1973”

Helen Levitt (August 31, 1913 – March 29, 2009) was an American photographer. She was particularly noted for “street photography” around New York City, and has been called “the most celebrated and least known photographer of her time.”

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