Sunday, November 16, 2008

First Rude Comment

It's a landmark moment! My first rude comment. I'll take it as a good sign that I have attracted enough readers to draw some resentment.

That said, I try to keep things upbeat around here, so all future negative/not constructive comments will be deleted. But this one stays—kind of like that framed dollar bill you see on the wall of a small business.

So, thanks, anonymous "Io", for the dollar bill of rudeness.

Let me explain one thing (to my less venomous readers—I'm sure "Io" won't be changing his/her mind): I am a strong believer in a person's capacity for life-long learning. I believe that we can become many things and cultivate a variety of talents through hard work and the application of intelligence. I happen to have a PhD in French Literature, for example, and I teach in a French Studies program. But I also teach an Honors European cinema class, and (oh the horror!) will be teaching an upper division photography class in Paris next fall.

At the University of Washington (where I got my MA and PhD), I was blessed with professors that encouraged cross-disciplinary studies. One of them was a Freudian/Lacanian specialist (who now teaches comp lit and French). Another was a world-famous French medievalist (whose degree was actually in English). In my experience, the "valuing diversity" atmosphere at UW helped foster an inclusive brand of intellectualism. In other words, maybe disciplines CAN make contributions outside of their specialty. Maybe we can apply our minds to anything.

(Note: I realize this next bit seems defensive, but I guess it is, so... Oh, well.)
Most people I have dealt with on a professional level are very open to that kind of thinking. The Johns Hopkins University Press featured an article I wrote on photography because it had something to say, and not because of the degree I hold. Similarly, when I was asked to curate an exhibition about Nostalgia & Technology, or invited to the Oxford Museum of the History of Science to lecture on microscopy, it was not because of my degree in French. I have done a wide variety of things in my life, from singing telegrams (pretty embarassing) to presentations about horror films (pretty gorey)—oh, and I've done photography since I was seven.

Legitimacy can be achieved in many ways. Clearly, "Io" has expressed the opinion that only a degree can bestow upon someone the title of "photographer." I suppose I could argue that my business and clients beg to differ. But I don't think my photography business made me a photographer; I think my interest in seeing and capturing the world made me one. I also happen to have a diploma from a French music conservatory, but I was a singer long before someone gave me that certificate. Certain professions require specific licenses; "photographer" or "artist" is not one of them.

Take-out photo is meant to inspire creativity in people of all skill levels, whatever their educational background. It helps me push myself in new directions (I am certainly no still life photographer, that's for sure, but why not try?). When I created my blog, I wanted to do something different. I wanted to help myself and others learn new skills through projects and themes. I wanted to demystify some tricks of the trade and create a place where people can share their work (although participation in the "Monthly Special" is not yet what I would have hoped, in spite of a growing readership). I aspire to do a "Take-Out Photo" book one day, because I think there is a place for what I have to offer.

So thanks for the dollar bill of rudeness. And there's my two cents.

As I said before, aside from this little historic moment, I don't see any use for rudeness and I will delete any future comments that are not constructive.

p.s. You can view the actual rude comment in my previous post, just above the comment that reads:
Photoshop Tutorials Room wrote...
Good Tutorial! It was chosen for the home page of
Keep on the good work ;)


Dane said...

I like your style. I'll buy your book.

I LOVE your writing, musings, meanderings, what have you. Is that sentence really a sentence? the words...?

Nice dollar. =)