Despite the mountains of rational evidence to the contrary there are still a lot of folks out there holding to the claim that come December 21, 2012 the ire of the universe will refocus upon the planet Earth and cast us all into an end-of-the-world scenario of some kind. If those folks are right then I’ve got barely half-a-week left to get some hard-earned advice out to my readers before this blog goes offline… It’s time for another Week of Lists!
As an amateur photographer I’m always on the lookout for a great project. And, assuming I remember to grab my camera bag as I’m fleeing for my life as society is collapsing into chaos and ruin around me this Friday, I doubt even armageddon is going to shake that habit loose.
But being a guy who often snaps pictures of family outings, nature macros, sunsets, and city-scapes, refocussing my camera lens during and after the end of the world — all while trying to keep myself and my family alive — is a complex prospect. And I’m sure I’m not alone.
So, what’s a photographer to do? Well, the subject matter might be different, but I’d like to think that all the skills we’ve been practising can form the foundation of some great new photo projects on the other side of society’s near-annihilation. For example:
1 :: A Last-Chance-To-See Gallery of Soon-To-Be-Extinct Nature Photography
There is always that slim, glimmering chance that whatever scary shape the apocalypse takes it will take the form of that mythical “magic bullet” and thus hone in on just humanity alone leaving the rest of the Earth unscathed to continue on without us. More than likely, however, whatever reduces our population to a withered remnant of its once former self will take out a goodly portion of nature along with it. Plants and animals covering the vast spectrum of flora to fauna will quickly become rare specimens, and as a photographer this might be your last chance to capture the glint in eye of a once majestic beast, or the delicate essence of a blossoming flower before they wither under the apocalypse-darkened sky.
Personally, I’ve always had a soft spot for black and white photography. Often I find myself flipping the colour-mode of my camera over to a setting that produces stark, high contrast, monochromatic imagery. There are details that a good photographer can pull from a scene and emotions that a good photographer can evoke with the surreal tools offered by this often-underrated art. As the End of the World arrives and all the bits-and-bobs of humanity’s greatest era of innovation is discarded and left to crumble — everything from now-useless iPhones dropped into gutters and left gather dust to the crumpled wrecks of minivans abandoned on the jagged asphalt of no-longer-tended suburban free-ways — these pieces, slowly being reclaimed by whatever is left of nature are the perfect evocative subjects for drama-seeking photographer of the post-society.
…poignant before-and-after photos.
3 :: Then-and-Now: Paired Location Shots from Before and After the End of Civilization
Of course, any photographer worth her salt is already going to have a hefty collection of scenes and panoramas of the epic views and vistas of the world prior to it’s utter collapse. These might be anything from bustling city skylines to famous landmarks protruding from the Earth as a testament to humanity’s might and prowess over the land and sky. And nothing tells a great photo-journalistic story so much more than those certain kind of poignant before-and-after photos, often taken from similar (or where possible, exact) locations with a disaster of some kind stuck in the middle to change things up in a dramatic way. There’s no telling what the world will look like following the collapse of society, but whether the landscape has been crushed to ruin by the weight of an alien invasion or simply fallen eerily silent having been swept clean by an epic viral plague that’s wiped out ninety-nine percent of all life, the contrast between now-and-then, the past-of-today and the future-of-tomorrow, is certain to be eye catching and interesting.
As disaster unfolds it is quite possible that as either (a) the cause or (b) the result of said disaster will be the appearance of mutant creatures that will subsume control over the crumbling ruins of society. While your fellow survivors may be interested in hunting these creatures for food or defence, you as a photographer have an interesting opportunity to be the first to capture and document imagery of these unholy creatures of mass destruction. Such imagery has the advantage of not only being artistically interesting but may have awesome implications for some distant future scientific study by the rebuilt remnants of humanity. Remember to carry a good zoom lens and avoid the use of your flash.
5 :: Faces of the Future: Snapshots of Kids Too Young To Remember the Internet
Last, but not certainly not least, portrait photographers will find an excellent opportunity as the first generation children born to survivors in the post-apocalyptic era. Babies will quickly start to grow in kids and young adults, so don’t miss the brief window you’ll have to capture this rare span in photos. These tots represent the new dawn, the beginning age of Society Two-point-oh, and are probably unfamiliar with the things you currently find mundane and normal: cameras, the Internet, and indoor plumbing. These kids will be filled with innocent optimism for the un-knowable future and will very likely hold an awesome potential as subject matter for any photographer, particularly after years of snapping pics of glum and grim adults pining for the good old days of 2012 before the collapse of society.
This post is part of my (satirical) Seven Days of Apocalypse Week of Lists countdown to (almost certainly not) the end of the world. Share and enjoy.