Photography, Hoaxes, and You

You can’t charge your iPhone by microwaving it.

Disney Cruises isn’t giving away 100 tickets for liking and sharing their Facebook page.

The Nigerian prince doesn’t really have any money. He’s also not a prince. Probably not Nigerian either.

And that baby that’s been blinded by a camera flash…. yeah, also not true.

In fact, Abraham Lincoln once said… “You can’t believe everything you read on the internet.”

First, before I go off on a rant about the flash hoax.. let’s talk about chain letters.

Remember back when the internet was new all the emails you’d get saying how you needed to “forward this to everyone in your address book” or else…  yeah, the superstitious urban legend warnings, miracle health cures, get rich quick schemes, and photo collections of cute kittens and puppies…  those are the parents of the ‘chain letters’ that are now being spread via social media.

With the exception of the cute kittens and puppies, they’re all still nonsense, false, misleading… and yet people believe them and send them on, contributing to the spread of misinformation and creating damage in their wake.

Last year, the “You can charge your iPhone in the microwave” hoax was going insane through my Facebook news feed.  Guess what, a lot of people tried it and fried their phone.  It was so crazy that many regular news outlets were reporting on it, police departments issued warnings to not try it, and the internet was full of people with melted phones.

Now, Disney Cruises. Let me burst your bubble: Disney doesn’t do free. With theme park admission rising 33% in the past five years, there’s no way The Mouse is giving away cruise passes or anything else.   But let’s pretend that Disney might, just might, do so. They aren’t doing so on a page with bad punctuation {Disney Cruise Line. << note the period at the end of the name is actually part of the name. Yeah, that’s not legit. }, only a few thousand followers {the REAL pages are in the millions}, or randomly to people who like and share the page {Disney doesn’t need spam sharing love}.   Next time you see one pop up in your news feed remember that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.   Don’t believe me, learn how to spot a fake Disney page here.

The Nigerian Price scam… believe it or not, I still get these in my junk mail, or variants on them. “Mrs.  ___   ___” and her “dearly beloved” emails….  In fact, the Nigerian prince scam has gotten to be the poster hoax of the chain letters, full of memes…  And comics about the scam.  You’d think that at this point there isn’t even a real prince in Nigera that can send an email without people deleting it as spam… but since the scam is still circulating, there’s still people out there falling for it and generating revenue for the scammers, and thus it will continue forever…

The “baby blinded by camera flash” hoax went insane in my Facebook news feed this past week, to the point that I actually posted links to the debunking web sites about it on my photography business page and my personal page (in addition to threatening the photography group I moderate with meme violence to the next person who posted it with a ‘this is why I only use natural light for newborns).   I heard reports from  photographers who had their clients asking about it before portrait sessions to make sure it was safe for their baby and the photographers had to reassure them that strobes or off camera flash (or even on camera flash) are perfectly safe before they could start the session.

Let’s break it down. The fake story, which was reported by a less than reputable news outlet who cited a less than reputable news outlet, who also cited… (you get the picture), will not be linked here as I refuse to give it more access.  However, I do believe that Snopes.com’s analysis is correct: no proof of this even happening at all exists.

First, its shoddy reporting.  No names, no dates, no location, even in any general way.  There was no due diligence, no checking with medical experts if this was even possible… because if they’d done anything they wouldn’t have had a story to run with.

Second, it doesn’t make sense.  Just from a logical standpoint, how could we have had cameras all these years and this is the first time a baby has ever been blinded?  There should be an entire generation of blind children from full powered flashes on regular cameras if a cell phone flash is strong enough to blind a baby.

Finally a real reporter tackled the issue via Yahoo Parenting, and actually ASKED AN EXPERT!

Yep, the “chief of pediatric ophthalmology and ocular genetics at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA” (who based on that title knows what he’s talking about!) called it “inconceivable.”  Now, before I speculate if he is a Princess Bride fan, I want to add that he went on to say that “There’s no way that a camera can cause such damage” and remarked that they operate on babies all the time, and operating room lights are brighter than camera flashes.  And so is THE SUN…

So, what did we learn from this?

Your photographer using natural light (aka the sun) is doing more damage to your baby than a photographer who uses camera flash or strobes.

Lights, whether from camera flashes, studio strobes, or the sun for natural light portraiture will not harm your baby.

Photographers who claim that they won’t use lighting modifiers because they harm babies are either misled,  trying to justify never learning how to use flashes, or for some other reason that eludes me perpetuating the hoax’s continued hysteria.

So please, don’t be that photographer.   Or I will have to hit you with a Futurama meme about not wanting to live on this planet anymore… or worse.

Before you ‘share it’ check it – www.snopes.com and www.hoaxslayer.com are both great sources.

My go-to check is to Google search “____ hoax” (with the blank being whatever the hoax is about) and see if there’s an article by one of those fact checking sites about it.

By the way, about Lincoln’s quote… in case you’re wondering, that was documented during his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in Pennsylvania right before he got on his unicorn and flew away to Jupiter to battle space monkeys.  Don’t believe me? Ask the internet.

Do you have a photography business question? ASK it! 
Client issue? Need a second opinion on what to do? ASK it!
Email ask@stefanieshutters.com and get an answer! 
Names and identifying information is never used in the final article. 

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