This is not the beginning of a bad dad joke, but a story about Culture. Not the culture, but a culture, and specifically our micro-cuture as wedding photographers.
There is a story (more of a thought experiment) about 5 monkeys, a ladder and a banana. And a very powerful waterhose.
A monkey climbs up the ladder to reach the banana, but as soon as she reaches the top, the firehose throws a jet of water to all the monkeys. Then, a second monkey tries the same, and again, the jet douses all the monkeys. It does not take long for the monkeys to pick up the pattern, and now, as soon as a monkey attempts to climb up, all the rest tackle her and stop her from climbing!
Here is where things get interesting. The scientist in charge of the experiment replaces each wet monkey with a totally new, dry monkey. By the end, all the monkeys are replaced with dry ones, yet they learned to follow the rule without any of them knowing the reason why.
If we were to ask one of the monkeys why they do this, they would say…
This is what culture is. Culture extends beyond mere museums, art, and architecture; culture encompasses the narratives we collectively tell and pass on; it’s the stories we share. “This is how things have always been done around here” is a powerful, and scary phrase.
The lesson of the story?
This story serves as a powerful metaphor for our culture, revealing how deeply ingrained behaviors and norms can persist without anyone understanding their origins or purpose. If we look deep in our culture as photographers, we may discover that many of the beliefs we held as dogmas, axioms, or unquestionable truths, are not as steadfast as we once believed. The parabol serves as a reminder that we need to ask questions.
Small questions, such as…
- Should we try to steal people’s attention via ads?
- Should we purchase a blue badge on instagram?
- Is it worth spending 4K to feature a 2x2cm advertorial thumbnail in Vogue Britain’s print magazine?
And big ones, such as…
- Why do we even photograph?
- Why should anyone care?
- And… the biggest of them all: