The Dark Side of Things

July 28, 2009

I really like collecting photos. It's one of the things that really makes me happy in life. I've been told I'm a bit obsessed. Well, happiness lies within the heart. Find what makes you happy and follow the path.

There are all types of photo collectors. Everyone seems to have a niche. There's one guy I know who collects photos of men in hats. Someone else likes photos of people hugging. Mostly the things collected are harmless, whimsical and amusing.

Then there is the darker side of photo collecting.

Over the past few years, I've gotten to know quite a few photo buyers. I'll see them at the flea market. There they are, sitting on the ground thumbing through a pile of photographs. Usually it's a pile that I've gone through already (I get there crazy early). It puzzled me that they managed to pick out photos to resell. I thought I already grabbed all the good stuff.

A couple of weeks ago I approached one of the dealers as he was paying for a small pile of snapshots at Swap-O-Rama. I said "Hey, whatcha get?". He handed me a small stack of about 20 photos. They were mostly young men in swimsuits. Kids really. They looked to be about 12 -14. I looked at him and said "What the hell are these for?". He stuffed the photos into his backpack, smiled and said "They sell good.". I just stared at him. Neither of us said anything. After an awkward minute , he turned and was swallowed into the flea market crowd.

They sell good? This couldn't be what I thought it was.

I waited a week and checked online. There they were. For sale. With the words "gay interest" added to the listing title. The descriptions included words such as sexy, cute, hot, bulge. I checked some of his completed listings. Some of the photos were selling for over $100.00 each.

He wasn't the only one doing it. There were quite a few others listed by different sellers.

I'm not a prude. I realize there's a line between what's right and wrong in the world. I try to be as open minded as I can. I bend with the wind.

This is really messed up.

I saw the seller again. We had a tense conversation about the photos. He tried to defend his actions in every way possible. When push came to shove, he finally admitted it was all about the money.

The bottom line is he's sexualizing photos of teenagers for profit.

At some point you have to stop letting money decide your course of action and start letting your heart tell you what's right and wrong. Otherwise you're nothing but a whore. In this case, more of a pimp.

(I realize this is neither big, happy or fun.. but dammit... it just got to me and I had to vent)

About the Funhouse

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Ron Slattery's
Bighappyfunhouse

Vernacular photography is my thing...

Well, that and photos of
plastic covered couches...

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