A Study of my Drink (A Blog about Photography)

I have a confession to make: I`m a serial offender for ordering my food and drinks for their looks, so I can photograph and, if I find them particularly appealing, post them on social media.

The prices in certain places used to annoy me, but ever since I started photographing, I have become more lenient, considering all the added value I`m getting.

Worst thing (apart from dealing with the impatience of fellow diners) is usually to determine which ones of all those many shots of the same thing are actually any good. The following are 10 out of 29 shots of the same white sangria I enjoyed in our favourite wine bar in Lisbon at the weekend – Bar Bica half way through, and with a stunning view onto, the very famous and much photographed Ascensor da Bica (and with free WiFi seducing you to post the first picture right away, which, of course, I did :-))

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All photos were made on an Iphone 7 Plus (with the background blurring portrait mode, which was a major selling point) and, apart from Chrome and said Portrait Mode, not edited.

Feedback would be much appreciated – while I do think I progressed in both technicque and composition, I often seem to have no idea of what a good photo is. (It always amazes me on Instagram how people like the pics I was not sure about and almost ignore thoe ones I`m particularly pleased with).

Lifestyle Month: the Facebook spring clean

Albeit with trembling fingers (always – as fully aware there`ll be no way bback!), I had a look through my friends list again this morning and deleted a few people.

While I`m not one to un-friend people after a disagreement, etc, I periodically do a “spring clean”, which somehow feels less personal – I delete people I no longer interact with. (Most of us seem to agree those days that “friend” is not a good term for a facebook contact, and I suppose it does raise our inhibitions to delete, as how can it not be personal to “un-friend” someone?)

There are several (predominantly younger) people I`m connected to who have close to 1000 facebook “friends”, but we share very personal stuff there (not just what we post, but also whom we know, etc!) so I feel a facebook list should be dynamic. If I had 1000 friends, I would find it impossible to keep track of them, and I then may as well post everything publicly. This is how people end up coming back from their holiday finding their flat was burgled. Or get sacked for complaining about their boss, even though they`re not friends with anyone from work. Some people use lists and Restricted Profiles, but I never liked the idea.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, someone recently suggested this phenomenon of large and outdated friends lists as one of the core reasons for bragging (which is, btw, the most cited reason for un-friending). If we don`t have any more offline contact, this can be seductive, particularly if the ex or high school bully are reading.

Because I don`t want to offend (or seem offended), I chose my disconnection moment wisely – another reason why a general “spring clean” works best for me. Do I send a farewell message? Never. .It never seems appropriate. I wonder when they`ll even notice. I really only ever delete people who are, online and offline, already far, far away from me already.

Bye. Part of me is still sad when I click that button, as it is, sometimes at last, a honest, final and now also clearly communicated recognition that those relationships are really over and will not be resumed. They all used to be nice, otherwise, they wouldn`t have been there in the first place.

Airbrush apps and thoughts about beauty and perfection

Below, a fab post about a topic which I was wanting to write about, too, for some time.

It`s about apps which beautify your selfies, and about what they do not only to our own self esteem, if we cannot keep up with our own selfies or if they show you “imperfections” of your natural self, which you never cared about before.

I also think it raises expectations which are both unrealistic and dangerous. As Paleica writes, social media became so popular, because it was authentic. But is it still?

There was that rather catty remark from a colleague about a friend, whose facebook photos were always looking so  much better than her real self: “I saw her in the street last week, and she looks nothing like that!” My initial thoughts were to defend her – if you are really that plain, but once in a while, you get a really good photo of yourself, of course, you`ll want everybody to see it.

On thinking a bit deeper however, I don`t think it`s all that cute. The woman who saw her in the street was now, in other words, telling everyone she was an imposter. And imagine she was invited to a class reunion and felt she could not live up to her own selfies. Would she still go, or would she find an excuse? Even though we all know about the apps, we kind of expect each other, and ourselves, to look like that in real life.

What I often think is that there now seems to be an expectation that you photoshop yourself. Everyone can do it, the tools are for free – there is no “excuse”. If you don`t you stick out for being mediocre – not only don`t you look good enough, you also cannot possibly value yourself, otherwise you`d at least try. It`s the same phenomenon which has been raised numerous times in relation to cosmetic surgery. The sheer availability of it has raised standards for everyone.

BTW, apparently, the selfie culture has significantly increased demand for facial surgery…

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Heute stelle ich euch eine App vor, die mich selbst sehr zwiegespalten hinterlässt. Auf der einen Seite finde ich sie genial, auf der anderen Seite aber “horrifying”. Warum stelle ich sie euch dann überhaupt vor? Weil ich selbst bis vor kurzem nicht wusste, dass es diese App gibt und ich denke, dass es nicht schadet, wenn man sich dessen bewusst ist, dass es heute kein Photoshop und ausgefeilte Retusche-Kenntnisse mehr braucht, um entweder das Beste aus sich rauszuholen oder im Kleinen und auf die Schnelle ein sehr unreales, halbwahres Bild von sich zu erschaffen.

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If I Didn’t Post a Picture, Did It Even Happen?

The New & Old: Internet Gold

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In a world with an endless amount of social media platforms and communication outlets, it seems almost necessary to update friends and family on simply every exciting adventure in your daily life. But, only the positive things tend to be published for the world to see, leaving your life story on social media nothing but perfect.

If you do something cool, you post a picture. The better picture the more likes. The more likes, the more popular you feel. That’s the world we live in. Our perceptions of people are often based on their social media presence. How often do you find yourself referring to Instagram or Facebook accounts to figure out what people are doing/who they are dating/where they are in the world. Some people would quickly claim that they don’t participate in this behavior often referred to as “stalking,” but it’s there for the world to see…

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On Social Media and Holiday Snaps

I` m deliberately spacing the Israel photos out, and neither did I post many elsewhere. Somehow, I didn `t feel the need, even though it was such a special trip. I can` t quite put my finger onto why this is. Maybe because I split from most of the people who themselves post at least half a dozen pics per day, maybe because I thought more about my use of it since I took time out last year (BTW, I`m considering to do it again – even though I went back, I thought it was so good for me!) – but maybe, they` re simply too special to me to be thrown in between all the other stuff that`s on facebook.

I had a really lovely experience with a close friend of mine, which really underpinned the last thought. This friend passionately opposes social media and never ceases to impress me regarding how she still maintains relationships around the globe.

Last year, she went on a special trip to South America. When I asked her for pictures, she said she didn`t want to spoil her holiday trying to find a computer, chose photos and then reply to replies. “When I come back,” she said, “I` ll have you all round for coffee, and then we can look at them together, and I` ll tell you all about it!” And that` s what we did, and it was lovely.

Three days after I returned from Israel, she phoned me: She was dying to see my pictures. If she could come round for a cup of tea. Like, now. She came, and we were pouring over the tablet for 2 hours. We didn `t even manage 3 days worth, because she had so many questions and about photo.

“I` m so glad, I` m not on facebook,” she said when she left. “I wouldn`t have wanted to see them there. I wanted you to be there when I see them and really talk about them rather than just scroll down a tiny screen.”

I said they aren`t on facebook, just four or five of them, and then she said she now felt even more privileged.

I thought about this for quite a while. None of those, who are on facebook, came round to see my pictures or hear the details. They` ve seen five pictures and the video of Masada, all without the stories. Those who aren` t on facebook have seen and heard about the whole trip.

Today`s photos show a magnificent sunset over the Holy City – probably one of the most overshared motives in the world, but I just can` t resist the allure of it either. I love nice architecture and interior design and clothes and things like that, but here` s some even more stunning beauty, and it`s all natural (no photosphop – just filters!) and not man made at all!

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In Defence of the Selfie

(Repost from August 2015 for Youknowwhoyouare❤)

Although definitely a trend that`s been staying, selfies keep getting slagged mercilessly. They`re considered vain, narcissistic, attention seeking or just plain unnecessary.

I like taking selfies. There, I`ve said it. Most of them won`t ever make it online, and they usually get deleted entirely after a couple of weeks. But every so often, I feel a spontaneous need to take a selfie. I don`t keep a diary other than my blog, and I usually don`t find it important enough to blog or mention to others how I felt in a particular moment. But every so often, I want to capture it, even if just for myself.

I took a selfie while I was waiting to go into a difficult meeting. A very carefully made up woman with big fearful eyes, looking vulnerable despite evident efforts not to show it. And this was exactly how I felt, captured accurately, with no words necessary. I also took a selfie after, totally unexpectedly, bumping into someone I hadn`t seen for ages. I was beaming, wind in my hair, and the sun was shining on it. Such a happy picture!! I could almost see myself running towards her like that. Those were both for myself and not put online.

Then, there`s the selfies that want to speak to others. When I go on holiday, there`s usually pretty soon a picture of me raising a glass of something on facebook, and that`s me telling all that I`ve arrived safely, had no problems (that would have taken precedence over this glass of wine), that it`s nice here, and that I`m greeting them. I also posted a selfie from in front of the Sheriff Court where I was called for jury service, telling friends and colleagues: “Look, I`m really getting to go this time, and I`m going NOW!” The same day, I also photographed myself in a fitting room, in a nice summer dress. It was almost hilarious how many likes I got for that, but it was probably quite an innovative way to say: “Just bought my first summer dress for the season!”

Some messages don`t need words; words wouldn`t have conveyed it as well anyway. In all those three cases, they would have seemed rather dull, actually.

What annoys many is those sexy pre party selfies, usually of young and beautiful females. They are generally considered fishing for compliments pictures. I only agree in part. They are fishing no more than making yourself up in the first place. Of course, you do so in order to look presentable to the outside world, but also to feel nice within yourself. And it`s only natural that you`re more likely to want to go out and show yourself if you feel attractive, just as we all know those days where we just want to stay in our bed because we just feel… fat, usually. Selfies and social media, IMO, are merely an extension of this rather than a phenomenon itself. It`s how we behave offline, too.

It`s also natural that you`re more likely to feel sexy when you`re young, but even (or maybe especially) the young and beautiful do have their down days where they think their bum is too big, or their hair is not right, or they are simply not as hot as their ex` new flame. I`m sure it`s very comforting in such moments to look at a good picture of yourself, only taken a couple of weeks ago, which reminds you that you are indeed beautiful if only you smile. Maybe, we should all have a folder of sexy selfies just for those moments – cheaper than shopping and healthier than chocolate!

Oh – and another thing. The last two times I was on holiday I did the unthinkable: I posted a couple of bikini photos of myself (not selfies). It took me a few days and some courage, but eventually, I posted them and it has, of course, been mentioned. I don`t understand (although I half expected it). I post loads of pics that I find beautiful, especially when on holiday. But as soon as those includes oneself, and worse still, one`s own body, that`s considered rude. Why? Tell me. Please. I genuinely want to know.

Me immediately before of that meeting (which went well, by the way)

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Me en route to a rather nice meeting:

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Me retaliating to a colleague via WhatsApp:

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Me at Elafonisi Beach:

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43 Facebook likes for a 40-year old in a dressing room…

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I would have added the Court selfie, but I deleted that. Messy hair 🙂

scared of the telephone

I used to be one of those teenagers who was constantly reprimanded for spending too much time on the telephone. At one point, my parents seriously considered getting me my own number and having me pay for it. (This was the Eighties!) When I was physically with my friends and didn`t need to phone them, we phoned other people, playing pranks. I used to do telephone marketing in foreign languages, and then, of course, I moved to another country and relied on the telephone to keep contact with my family.

Then email arrived and slowly but surely replaced the telephone. I found it less intrusive. Sometimes, I would spend an hour emailing back and forward with my sister, surfing other websites while doing so and munching away without her complaining about the noise. Then came messenger, and then facebook, and phone calls became less and less. Someone once said he didn`t like facebook because it dilutes personal contact by seemingly replacing it. Although I kind of agreed, I didn`t take the warning.

Last year, I was organising my own big birthday party. I never usually celebrate my birthday, but this was a big one, so everyone was invited via facebook. Unless they worked with me, in which case they received a group email.

And then people started to phone me about it and asked for me to phone them back when I wasn`t in. And I was scared. I dialed their numbers willing them not to be in, so I could leave a voicemail, which would then prompt them to leave a message on facebook. Although both were relatives, we never phoned each other, and we hardly saw each other either. It wasn`t necessary. We were all on facebook. I was surprised myself at how stressful I found the prospect of phoning them now; and how relieved when both conversations “went well”.

A few months ago, something happened at work. My colleague texted me on a Sunday before I came back from holiday, and I just couldn`t wait to speak to him, so I asked for permission to call. It felt weird talking to him actually two good colleagues from my own living room, as if we crossed a boundary. We drank from the same cup and spoke about our periods, but we never ever phoned each other outside work or work related nights out.

I wonder how I could allow this to happen. Being scared to telephone people I`m related and close to. And I honestly think social media has done this. If it wasn`t for facebook I would have seen or phoned those two relatives more often. If it wasn`t for texting, we would all phone each other to arrange nights out and would feel less awkward doing so on occasions when texts won`t do. And if we didn`t have email, I`d have those hour long phone conversations with my friends at home much more spontaneously and rather than schedule them just because we can. Phoning feels intrusive now, but it never used to. Smartphones meant to bring us closer together, but I really wonder whether they made us grow further apart instead.

I have one friend who always phones me rather than text or email, and she`s a self confessed technophobe. I sometimes phone her, too, just to prove to myself that I`m still brave enough to do so.

I wonder who`s still visiting friends and family without calling ahead? We don`t. But we used to all the time.

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The Girlfriend who Dumped Me…

Every so often, there are still things I want to tell her. Things I think would make her laugh or she`d be interested in or only she would understand. I usually WhatsApp her, but then I remember that we don`t talk any more, and I think I`ll put it on Facebook. Then I remember that she`ll have unfollowed me there, too, for she`s ignoring me ever since … we didn`t fall out about anything, actually. I then remember that this is not true, because she recently asked someone a question about something I posted. So she is reading, probably rather eagerly so. I`m just not supposed to know. But I can post it. No, I can`t. For she`ll know that it`s been posted for her and recognize that I`m still reaching out…

Coworkers and Facebook – Befriend or don`t Befriend?

Because we are chatting on WhatsApp, a co-worker is now being suggested as a friend on facebook.

Hrmpf. When I changed jobs I vowed not to befriend new colleagues on facebook. In my last office, this repeatedly led to mutual surveillance, peer pressure and jealousy. Several people were disciplined, and one was sacked for what she posted. I never felt less close to colleagues who were not on facebook (or didn`t connect to co-workers), but my relationship with those who were was, to varying degrees, more complicated.

Now, I`m already considering what I can and cannot write with my colleague reading. Moreover, she could be linked to others, who then get suggested to me and vice versa, and within no time at all, I`d be back to square one. I like my colleagues, but with most of them, I`m not interested in their personal lives. Once you connected on facebook, though, you`re expected to.

My relationship with this particular woman is nice as it is now. I can`t see facebook adding much. But if she sees and requests me, I couldn`t ignore her or worse, put her in her place by saying I won`t befriend co-workers. Actually, I think I could say to her that I don`t want to recreate the problems in my old office by feeling pressurised to befriend others as well, and then we could talk about it, and she could let me know what things are like, if she is at all part of it…

Once again, I find myself suffering facebook anxiety… 😦

 

 

No Facebook – what became of it?

In mid December, I made a resolution to skip facebook for a month.

Those who followed me with this will know that I was not entirely successful – I shared my Instagram photos to facebook and convinced my husband to tag me a couple of times. I also visited to read and reply to the comments I received to my farewell post. On the plus side, I didn`t feel remotely tempted to look up other people. However, it should be no surprise that I returned to facebook and decided to keep it in my life.

I`m linked to 106 people there, and after I deleted three or four, that`s 106 people I want to stay in touch with. I don`t see them all regularly, so without facebook, I would need to phone a friend almost every day to speak to each of them three times a year. Replace one or two of those calls with a face to face meeting, and most of us wouldn`t have either time or money to keep all those people in our lives.

Some people claim facebook is fake, but the more closely I look, the more I`m finding that it usually mirrors pretty much how people are offline. Yes, people brag, but those who brag on facebook will also brag offline. All that facebook does is giving them more exposure.

Some say facebook exposes people, but these people will usually expose themselves eventually. You could argue that facebook lets them get away with less. A friend of mine (not on facebook) has just learnt through facebook that her ex was already in another relationship before they “properly” split. It`s hard, but it also confirmed that she was right to stop fighting and that she does not need to hope for him to come back.

I read a lovely book named “Tales from Facebook“, which described many facebook phenomenons from many different perspectives and which mellowed me even towards some of the things I used to find annoying. Even though I still find them a bit juvenile, I have to agree that the so called “cryptic posts” are often amusing and intriguing, and that rants, albeit often cringey, are also very refreshing on a platform where so many show themselves and their lives only at their best. And as far as my pet hate No 1 is concerned – videos, jokes and inspirational quotes -, someone suggested that people may be so self conscious nowadays about posting anything too personal, that they resort to sharing other people`s content if they want to keep sharing anything at all. Makes sense to me.

Maybe, I had to (try to) do without it for a bit in order to really appreciate facebook for keeping me connected with so many people, and like them who run it, it`s got its down days or brag days or expose a cheating boyfriend days, etc. 🙂