Ordinarily, photography news doesn't find it's way into mainstream media, it's usually reserved for sites frequented by photography nuts. For photography news to make it's way onto the 'regular' news it has to be something extraordinary, or something quite stupid. In recent weeks stupidity was taken to extraordinary new heights...pun very much intended!
Photography news outlets, regular news outlets, and the Daily Mail, all shared a story about Russian Instagram model Viktoria Odintcova, her band of merry morons, and their actions atop a skyscraper in Dubai.
For those who haven't seen it...Viktoria, and from what I can gather a photographer and his assistant, broke into a restricted area of the Cayan Tower in Dubai. Once there, Viktoria dangled some 1000ft (if the reports on the building height are correct) above Dubai, from the hand of the photographer's assistant. None of them wearing safety equipment.
You'd be forgiven for thinking the shoot was to promote some sort of extreme sports magazine, extreme sports clothing brand, or some energy drink associated with extreme sports. It wasn't. The shoot was purely to garner Instagram loves...you know, that little heart button that is now more valuable than life itself!
Whilst I'm not a fan of the high visibility jacket wearing, clip board holding, finger wagging people that are the health & safety brigade. In this instance, I'd have to side with them. When you're at a height that would see you turned into a flailing fleshy missile should you fall, you really ought to think about wearing some sort of safety harness. No image, no matter how good you think it may end up, is worth so much unnecessary risk...as I've ranted about before in regards to people shooting on active rail tracks.
This stupidity, I am quite sure, will have the 'celebrity' or 'YouTube' effect too...is that a thing? If not, I'm coining it! It's likely to be only a matter of time before someone sees the video, decides to emulate it, and something goes horribly wrong...and I'm not talking Fail Army wrong, I'm talking that person looks like a Rorschach test on the pavement wrong!
As art is subjective, I try not to express too negative of opinion about images I don't like. I see it, I move on with my life, others may like it. When something like this happens though, and there's this level of stupidity gone into it, I'm more than willing to make an exception. The images created in this stunt, in my mind, are mediocre at best.
Giving benefit of the doubt as to the skills of those involved (I haven't looked at any of their works/Instagram accounts), I think this mediocrity is down to what went into making them. If they hadn't gone about it in such an idiotic, criminal way, they could have got much better shots. With legally attained access to the location, they'd have had plenty of time to shoot, all without having to try avoid security. Not to mention, if they had used safety equipment, and a ickle Photoshop to remove it, they would have had much more creative freedom, so would probably have got some awesome shots. I know it's often said that art is about taking risks, but when people say this, they don't mean risking your head looking like a watermelon that was hit by a bazooka shell!
A few people have tried defending the actions of Viktoria and her cohorts, citing motorbike riding and extreme sports as dangerous activities. The thing is, with the exception of a few fuck wits, most people who partake in these activities do it legally, and they take a lot of precautions. Most of them don't also endanger other people, nor risk leaving their loved ones alone...and with a massive bill for cleaning up their puddle of a carcass.
I realise the above probably makes it seems like I resent just these idiots. I'm don't. I resent all idiots that partake in these kind of shenanigans, especially the ones giving models and photographers a bad name. Too many times on photography news sites do you see CCTV footage of people nearly falling from cranes, nearly getting hit by trains, or doing other similarly stupid shit for a chuffing Instagram post. I'm also laying some of the blame for these situations with the likes of Instagram. When you have these places pushing the concept of getting as many 'loves' as you can, there'll always be some who take things too far in pursuit of them, as it gives them some false sense of popularity that they crave.