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Spoofs & Satire

Credit: Logan Ingalls

Stop, Don’t Shoot

You witness an incident occur directly in front of you. You see every detail. There’s time to help—but should you get involved? A handy guide for photographers.

The Scene

You’re shooting artsy black-and-white photos of the city—the litter, the urban decay, the Hooters on W. 56th. Suddenly you see a pedestrian suffer a hit-and-run accident. The victim lies helpless in the street as oncoming traffic bears down on him. No one in the immediate vicinity seems inclined to help, although one young onlooker appears to be Tweeting for assistance.

What You Should Do

How far away is the victim? Is there enough time to reach him? Yes? What if you were to hop over to him on one foot? Still more than enough time? It doesn’t matter. The worst thing you can do in a circumstance like this is go crazy asking yourself impossible philosophical questions.

Your role as a photographer is to record life, not interact with it. So record it, in all its captivating gruesomeness. Then sell it to the newspaper. And be comforted in the knowledge that by refusing to interfere with your subjects, you’ve kept the situational dynamics pure and untainted—which, admit it, sounds kind of artsy.

 

The Scene

As you walk to the corner market, you witness an elderly woman fighting off a purse snatcher. It’s a tug of war she’s about to lose in seconds.

What You Should Do

Obviously time is of the essence. You must immediately spring into action. Whip out your trusty camera and capture for posterity the extraordinary human drama unfolding before you. Your adrenaline will be pumping wildly, so it will take extra effort to keep your subjects from getting blurry, but you can emerge from this a hero (if not to the general public, then to other photographers).

Note: If the purse snatcher happens to notice that you got his face on film, it’s possible a second, more stressful human drama will unfold. Although your camera functions as a useful shield between yourself and the rest of the world, it can only protect you metaphorically. If the purse snatcher demands your camera, hand it over. Any attempt to hide behind it in a physical sense will only get you punched in the kidney, much to the approval of that other photographer across the street.

 

The Scene

While enjoying a day in the country, shooting a beautiful wooded landscape, you spot in the distance a hiker getting mauled by a bear. “Distance,” in this case, can be defined as “well over 20 feet away.”

What You Should Do

Bears can often be scared away by loud noises, such as the sound of a camera shutter clicking greedily away. So act responsibly by snapping a few dozen quick shots. When the bear notices your presence, hastily retreat to the nearest ranger station and switch to a zoom lens, which is recommended for best capturing wildlife.

 

The Scene

You’re strolling along the sidewalk when a car pulls up to the curb and the driver politely asks for directions.

What You Should Do

Tell the driver you can’t help him out. Tell him you don’t like to get involved. You need to stay detached, outside of events, a mere observer of this intangible, highly subjective thing called life.

If you begin to feel uncomfortable, take out your camera and face the driver through the lens. No need to take a picture. Just breathe easier knowing there’s a buffer between the two of you. Is that person on the other side of the lens even a part of your reality, or does he in fact reside in an alternate dimension or something? Wasn’t there an old Twilight Zone episode like that?

Say goodbye to the driver, take note that the apartment building across the street is currently on fire, and start snapping away. Choose not to hear the bloodcurdling screams for help.

 

The Scene

You’re relaxing on the couch when, out of nowhere, your wife suggests you help with the dishes. You instantly recognize from her tone of voice that there’s zero chance of getting out of it.

What You Should Do

Cradle your camera and sink to the floor in a fetal position, losing any and all sense of your place in the universe as you plunge into an inescapable existential conundrum.

Ralph Gamelli has been published in The Big Jewel, McSweeney’s, Monkeybicycle, and Yankee Pot Roast. This is the part where he’s supposed to put down some little joke, but as always he refuses to bow to societal expectations. More by Ralph Gamelli