Witness of stupidity

The media outlets seem to want to mask the reality with an annoying absurdity

An elder looks at a model photographed by a journalist down town in Dublin in March 2007. © Albert González Farran / Photocall Ireland

An Irish model with top and miniskirt is displayed before photojournalists to promote an art exhibition. It heppens in Dublin city center, in March 2007, when the cold still clogs the bones of all dubliners. Coated with a winter jacket and a hat, an elder smokes pipe and looks at the scene of the model with a face of some contrariety. He does not know if photographers want to enhance that Nordic beauty, or hide the mediocrity of the painting she wants to promote. With his eyes, the elderly witnesses a scene that he does not know if it is totally real, and he doubts whether it is him who is out of place. I considered that look was the most important moment. It happened few seconds before the old man took his cane and went out of the scene.

The Irish press in those years (and I guess still now) was full of images of handsome and half-naked models, famous actors and actresses or television characters, who gave their faces for superfluous stories or even commercial promotions that appeared in front pages. Those photographs were the facade that concealed the real garbage of the country. Alcoholism and high drug use, especially among the marginal young sectors, revenges among gangs, the ultra-Catholic conservatism pressing politics and people’s decisions, the difficulties to understand the separation of Northern Ireland… not much media was echoing this. What they were looking for, especially the so-called ‘tabloids’, was to distract with stupidities that forced readers to think little (or not at all).

Yes. During I spent some months in Dublin, and I also had to go to many of these stupid photo calls where the celebrity stood out above the main reason of the event. Sometimes, I had to queue behind other photographers who waited for their turn to spend some exclusive minutes with the model. Some of them, jealous of their creativity, did their best to hide their photographic idea from others. Many got upset if anyone copied their idea. As they didn’t want to share the Pulitzer prize with someone who did not deserve it.

It must be said that those demonstrations of jealousy emerged technically nearly perfect images. And it was where I had one of the best photography schools in my career: an light impossible to improve, perfect compositions, people looking great to the last detail…. But many of these wonderful photos were empty inside. And that old man, who looked at the model with disbelief, believed that stupidity did nothing to do with the reality he knew.

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