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Zen and the Art of Non-Photography

Photographer Becca Bland is urging her fellow snappers to throw down their cameras (gently, mind: they’re expensive) for one day in July in order that we all may – and you may want to sit down for this bit – “experience life in an unmediated fashion, without anything in front of our eyes.” Quite.

Becca is, as you may have already guessed, a photography student. One who has initiated a campaign for July 17th to be designated ‘Non Photography Day’ because, she explains “when you simply take photos of something, without fully engaging with it, you’re assuming that all you can have and take is the actual appearance of a place” – take a deep breath, Becca – “rather than other creative factors that exist in the place”. (No, we don’t know what that mean either, but as soon as we find someone with a goatee and a black polo neck, we’ll ask them.)

The idea came to Becca, while on the Thailand/Burma border, a part of the world noted for the kind of drugs that make you, like, really, really, want to look at your hands really closely. While trekking through the jungle with a group of travellers she noticed their tiresome, inexplicable and frankly baffling tendency to take photographs of the beautiful scenery around them from time to time.

While we at EPUK Towers were privately rooting for her at this point to kill her unspiritual and unworthy companions, shave her head and retreat silenty into the jungle muttering “the horror ! the horror !” and await the arrival of Martin Sheen, instead she disappointingly took her new-found insight back to college.

“I felt sad for them, as it seemed they were missing out on so much reality through their obsession, an act of possession- of wanting to own the appearance of the place, as if this was all it had to give and photographs were their way of taking it”, said Becca, whose parents privately admitted to EPUK that they were somewhat disappointed that she couldn’t show them any pictures of the holiday they paid for.

Based upon her Buddhist beliefs – a religion which has hitherto remained notably silent on the matter of photography in public places – this celebration of the sound of one hand snapping is to be enforced by a “non-photography police” – no, we’re not making this up – who will apprehend individuals who commit the nefarious act of taking pictures on the prohibited day. Offenders will presumably be taken to a non-police station where they will be asked to hold up a row of non-numbers while a sketch artist captures their likeness from two angles.

And according to her, the idea has “gone global”. Which would be presumably using the term “global’ in it’s fifth-century sense, give the first four places she mentions are as far-flung as Manchester, Leeds, London and Brighton.

Quite how the idea of launching a movement to stop photography will look on the CV of someone looking to be a photographer is another matter. No picture editor we’ve ever worked for has ever bought the excuse of “if I had photographed the politician leaving his mistress’ flat, it would have ruined the essence of the experience”.

And naturally it would be meanspirited of us to say we look forward to future events of global importance such as “Becca’s Signing On for Unemployment Benefit Day” followed shortly by “Becca’s Interview for That Tesco Checkout Job Day”. Instead, and with a nod to our own personal karma we wish her the best, and hope the non-photography police don’t try to spread the good word with the leather jacketed, celeb-hungry London paparazzi.

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