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Mike Redmond Column

Please refer to the Mike Redmond Column main page for columns published in other issues.
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 New Photo Trends Really Quackers

The world in which we live grows more complicated by the day, and navigating through this thicket presents us with questions bordering on the imponderable, such as:

How come young women getting their photos taken make duck lips?

Have you seen this? It’s all over the World Wide Interwebs. You can find it on all of your basic social networks, such as Faceplace or, as it is widely known, A Whole Bunch Of Fairly Meaningless Jabber That Allows You To Have All Sorts Of Friends You’ve Never Actually Met.

You go to one of these places to update your status (“Mike Redmond is eating beef jerky and watching ‘Dancing With The Stars’ while playing the banjo ukulele”) and there they are: Picture after picture of these youngsters doing this duck-lip thing for the cameras. Remember how they used to tell models to “make love to the camera?” Now it’s “make faces.”

I used to be a newspaper photographer. In fact, that’s really how I broke into the business, and how I thought of myself for the first 10 years of my (and I use the term loosely) career. This was back in the days when you made pictures with film, not pixels. This was also back in the days when the customary thing to do in front of a camera was to smile. Unless, of course, you were being carted off to jail for something. I always said “Smile!” when I made those pictures, too, but for some reason none of the subjects cooperated. I got some great remarks from them, though. None of which can be printed here.

Anyway, this was in the olden days, the 20th Century. You know. With the dinosaurs and everything. Things were different then. And now they’re REALLY different.

The duck-lip thing, I notice, is pretty much confined to females. Not a lot of guys making duck-lip photos. It’s not that guy lips are unsuited to the task – heck, I went to school with a guy nicknamed “Duck” because his lips were that way all the time. He also walked like a duck. And when we were involved in a water-balloon war with the sophomores while they were working on their homecoming float, duck is what he neglected to do.

But guys have better things to do in pictures, such as make gang signs. Which look really stupid when done by white kids from the suburbs.

So that leaves the duck-lip phenomenon in the hands, or more accurately on the faces, of young females on social network sites. That could make it a “fad,” or if we’re afraid it will stick around for a while, a “trend.” Or, as is the case of many fads and trends, a “bad idea.”

I think it springs from three things: The widespread availability of digital cameras, particularly in cellular telephones; our own ever-changing ideas about what is cute, what is sexy, and what is funny; and copious amounts of alcohol. That’s the other thing about a lot, if not most of the duck-lip photos I’ve seen: They tend to have bars in the background.

And I guess that pretty much explains the duck-lip thing. Another of today’s pressing questions answered.

Next week: If something goes without saying, then why do we say it anyway?

Like I said, it’s a complicated world.




© 2011 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.