On Killfies and Campaign Photos

What photo will the media use in the event of your untimely death?

Preset Style = Fashionable
Format = 6" (Medium)
Format Margin = Small
Format Border = Sm. Rounded
Drawing = Fountain Pen
Drawing Weight = Light
Drawing Detail = Medium
Paint = High Contrast
Paint Lightness = Darkest
Paint Intensity = Normal
Water = Tap Water
Water Edges = Medium
Water Bleed = Intense
Brush = Coarse Detail
Brush Focus = Medium Light
Brush Spacing = Medium
Paper = Buff
Paper Texture = Medium
Paper Shading = Light
Options Faces = Enhance Faces

Via @Documentally’s excellent weekly newsletter, here’s a short Observer article by Eva Wiseman on the phenomenon of ‘killfies’. This is where a person’s attempt to take a selfie of themselves gets them killed.

Which led me to think, maybe we’ve been getting our fears wrong all along? What if the way technology destroys humanity is not with an uprising of robots, of toasters turning against their masters, of self-driving cars choosing a road trip less travelled, but with something as simple as a reflection? There is something so unashamedly ancient in these deaths that it almost seems gauche to point it out. The sirens singing on the rock, beckoning sailors towards their comprehensive display of filters. The boys drowning in their own image. The recording of a risk, the risk itself. …

And once you’ve learned about killfies, it’s very hard to unsee them. Every Instagram post suddenly reads a little like a suicide note.

Or, as a candidate for ‘the photo of you the media will use when they report on your untimely death’, the darker side to selfies that I wrote about a few years ago. In bygone eras, these images were usually school photos or wedding day pictures. Now they tend to be self-portaits.

A related concept is the single image that is used to campaign for a political prisoner. I have actually taken one such image myself: my photos of the Turkish journalist Ahmet Şık (taken at he launch of his report Journalism Under Seige this time last year) are now being used by English PEN to illustrate the campaign for his release from prison.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *