What does my ID say about me?

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Hello, stranger. Or friend. Whoever is reading this.

I am afraid these days. My adventure began a year ago, and here I am. Not much smarter than before, but I definitely made a lot of experiences. I met interesting people and stupid ones. (Not saying one excludes the other)

One question I heard a lot in the last year was “Do all Germans like/do/have/….[insert random stereotype here]?”

So, I want you to do something. Get out your ID. Look at it and think what it says about you. It is only a piece of plastic with some letters and probably a bad picture on it. Yet it determines a lot of things.

It gives you the rights and privileges of living in the country that issued your ID, it makes it possible for you to travel and possibly makes it possible to buy alcohol. It may make people hateful towards you, it may make you interesting to them.

The nationality itself is printed on it. People will assume that I like beer, blasmusik and the Oktoverfest because I was born in Munich – even though I may hate all of it. They will say I am efficient even though I may be the laziest and most unorganized person on earth. Can this little credit card really tell you that much about me?

In some, if not many, countries people will suffer because there is a “F” instead of a “M” in the column for “sex”. Women are not allowed to vote, drive or leave the house alone in some states. Moreover, it will raise expectations on how you look, dress and behave. A “M” makes it socially unacceptable to wear a skirt or dress in public.

Do we want a little piece of plastic to get so much into our personal space, influence our choices? I don’t think so, and hope this helps you think about the role of that little letter. Germany is the first European country that finally stopped this random assignment of expectations by introducing a “undefined” option.

Don’t let your ID define you. Don’t define others by what you read on their ID. The only way to know a person is to talk to them.

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instagram and haters

The other day, we had this discussion again. No one had a real camera; people would take out their phones and take pictures with their smartphones. Then some effects and frames via Instagram. Perfect, ready to upload. Basically, it is the same discussion analogue and digital cameras made when the conflict aroused. It is easier, cheaper and quicker to take pictures. Of course, that brings advantages and disadvantages.

Obviously, people who take digital pictures have to think less about what they’re doing. Cropping, colours, even the focus and focal layers can be changed in post-productional-photoshopping. I won’t go deeper into changing people and their looks at this point, despite being well-aware of that dilemma. But the question is as simple as that: what do YOU want?

Everytime professionals (or wannabes) attack Instagram-Users for cheating, one could also argue that taking pictures with a DSLR and editing them professionally is even more cheating. Because you do not actually make people aware of your changes as the hobby-photographers do. On top of that, if you take pictures in RAW it is even easier to swop everything around. Once you are into it, I mean.

So, do you want “real” pictures”? Do you just want to enhance their looks a bit by boosting contrast and colours? Or do you want to take it as far as reducing the gap between what comes out of your camera and an eerie shot? Of course I feel ridiculed when I think how much I spent on cameras, lenses and other gadgets; the time I spent to learn how to photoshop. But then I did all this for two reasons.

Firstly, I like to take pictures. And I like altering them. It gives me pleasure in the moment of doing it. Standing in front of people who will do everything I tell them. Setting my camera on a tripod. Arranging the focus. Being angry when people walk in or I just cannot find the right settings. And, realizing that I actually get better in doing all of that. Every single day.

Secondly, I love great pictures. Because looking at them makes me happy. Be it for precious family moments or for the pure pleasure of looking at fine art. If one or both of this purposes can be fulfilled by a smartphone-camera and a program, why bother? It’s not less effort to invent these gadgets. The development in this field is remarkable, leads in new directions and brings up completely new styles of photography.

So, photographers of the world: Instagram can be as much of a good or bad thing as any person with a camera and Photoshop skills. Get over it. And at least, that includes me in the picture sometimes.