A Bugatti Veyron

Above: Onlookers admire and photograph a £2 million Bugatti Veyron parked outside a pub in Mayfair, London, April 2018. Credit: Oscopic.

How to Photograph a Bugatti Veyron

Walter Benjamin likened hobby photo-snappers to game-bird hunters. They go out and shoot partridge, pheasant or grouse for entertainment, but at the end of the shooting session these hobby hunters are stuck with lots of meat that nobody really wants (including the hunters themselves). In Benjamin's day, such hobby hunters would pass around local butchers offering their game. But, as the German critic noted, most butchers had no market for the stuff anyway. In Benjamin's analogy, the activity of amateur hobby photography is characterized by being surplus, unnecessary, irrelevant, and actually illogical. The only "enjoyment" is in the killing or shooting itself. There is no purpose or effect beyond the moment of "the kill." The photos will have no value when viewed later--they have nothing to recommend them. The hobby photographer is involved in a pointless activity.

Scrolling forward from 1931 in Berlin, Germany to London in 2018, Benjamin's analysis of the hobby snapper is still relevant only now every person with a smartphone is a hobby photographer on the lookout for a game-bird to shoot.

The hobbyist mentality has become pervasive largely due to the rise to prominence of the smartphone app Instagram. Once the user is set up on the app, with followers and following others, the question arises as to what content to add for a post, and the criteria is this: something interesting. Something that is elevated, fascinating, awesome, cool, fabulous, astonishing, legendary, etc. ... something like a chrome-finish Bugatti Veyron (with Dubai number-plates) parked outside a pub in Mayfair, London.

(15 April 2018)