Remember my post about shopping, and my desire for this duster?
Well, Friday morning as I was drinking my tea I went wandering over to the Free People website and discovered this little “check store availability” button one can click for any item. I clicked it, and discovered that the Galleria store had just gotten three dusters in stock that very morning. Three! Of course I had to launch myself into my car and get down to the shop before three other undeserving females ended up with MY duster, dammit. And it is fabulous, albeit very unusual – you know you are wearing something unique when your husband looks at you after you put it on and asks, quite innocently, “So, does that serve some sort of purpose?” because he can’t imagine it could actually just be a duster (he also likes to call me Geddy Lee when I wear such things). Or perhaps he’s just worried someone’s going to come along and throw me down a well and dip it in goat’s blood or something. Moving on.
I’d been considering taking photos of some of the cool stuff I’ve gotten from FP lately, especially since so much of it is just the sort of clothing I like to photograph – I’m not sure if this is a good thing, but I am starting to dress more and more in clothes I’d also love to take pictures in – but I didn’t want to just do another one of my “here’s me in some cool outfits” posts I used to do. There are various reasons for this, one among them is that it’s kinda boring, to shoot and process as well as to view. But another reason relates to an issue Beth and I were discussing recently, which is the way in which websites use such photos when they are shared in the social media sections clothing companies are starting to cultivate. I’ll keep it brief, but in a nutshell my change in attitude towards sharing “here’s my outfit” photos on clothing websites started when an online wig store took a photo I’d shared as part of a review on their site and put it into a print catalog they then sent out as a major mailer to all their site subscribers. I found out about it from a friend who got a copy of the catalog, and like most people, she assumed I’d be flattered that out of the thousands of photos uploaded to the site they chose one of mine to be put in print. But I was not flattered, or thrilled at all. I was, if not pissed, at least irritated by it. Because they didn’t ask me to use my photo in that manner, and if they had, I would have declined (shout-out to ModCloth who actually DID email and ask my permission to use my photos for promotional purposes, which I did decline).
Yes, companies encourage end users to upload photos and reviews to their sites under the guise that doing so helps others make better decisions about what to purchase, when really what the company wants is a lot of reviews and photographs of their merchandise that help them sell stuff without having to put out any advertising dollars to make it happen. “Here,” they say to the customers,”take a photo of yourself in our merchandise and help others make informed decisions about how to spend their money. Do that and you’ll be a good member of our community.” (Nowhere is this altruistic attitude more cultivated than in the wig community, where most women who are buying the companies’ products are doing so in a state of duress due to illness or medication.) But then – once you’ve uploaded that photo or review, the company owns it and can do whatever they want with it. At least this is what they claim. Including take that photo and stick it into a catalog that kills loads of trees and junks up mailboxes and replaces the work of real photographers who would have made real money at their jobs had the company not been trying to hike up their own profit margin by yanking crappy photos they got for free from customers who uploaded to their website (the picture they used of mine, by the way, was NOT a high-quality photo, but was taken with my cell phone and looked like anything you might upload to Facebook just to show where you were eating supper). Most people still see it as something exciting and cool without realizing that they’re kinda getting ripped off, but personally if my photos are going to be used as advertising I want to get paid for it, even if only a little. It’s not actually the money, it’s the principle of it that bothers me – I uploaded that photo under one premise, and there turned out to be this entirely different motivation on behalf of the company to encouraging me to do so in the first place. The realization made me feel naive, and duped (and perhaps the whole internet already realized this and I really am the last one to figure it out), and the whole thing put me off uploading photos and reviews entirely, so I no longer do it. And once I wasn’t enjoying sharing pictures of my outfits on places like ModCloth, I saw even less reason to take them in the first place.
So all that is to say that I didn’t want to take just any old photos of me in my new duster-of-many-colors; if I was going to show off some new clothes I would at least be jumping the process.
Perhaps this is a way I can continue to share and review things I’ve bought that I like and want to share with others without getting taken advantage of: take photos and share them, but be sure they’re photos no company would want to use in its advertising.
But then again, maybe photos like this aren’t useful to anyone. Meh, I’ll probably just quit doing it and jump around in new stuff when I want to share it here.
As far as the photos go, they suffered from some poor focusing in my opinion, and most of them weren’t as sharp as I would have liked. Also, I’ve had this black backdrop hanging on my wall for over two months now, so the part that I fold out onto the floor has gotten pretty dirty, and try as I might to clean it off and subsequently edit out the little spots that show up against the black, a few specks made it into the finished photos anyway. These were just for fun, so I’m not real worried about it.
One thing that was happening while trying to shoot these photos, though, was that although the duster was light and had great movement it was flowing in a manner that didn’t show it off all that well, and I was getting more of the inside of it than the detail on the back. So, I ended up putting the thing on backwards and taking photos of it that way.
I didn’t do this for very long, though, because the top was so floaty that every time I jumped, the fabric flew up into my face and right into my lipstick – this was not a cheap article of clothing, so I wasn’t about to risk mucking it up on the first day of wear. And I did go ahead and shoot a few other things I’ve bought recently, but I’ll save those jump shots for another post. Happy Monday everyone!