Imagine, if you will, that the photography industry is a very large swimming pool. Not one of those backyard models, but rather an Olympic sized pool. And this very large pool is filled with photographers. However, we will call them swimmers, as that’s how analogies work.
You are at the pool with everyone else and the pool is quite crowded. I mean, who doesn’t love a pool? The shallow end is shoulder to shoulder with swimmers. As you walk by, you can’t help but think it looks like a giant can of sardines, all packed in there. You think this because you love analogies.
You notice also that there are lots of people in the shallow end wearing bathing suits that no one would really wear into a swimming pool. The suits are shiny and bedazzled with rhinestones and doo-dahs and made more for sitting alongside the pool, not swimming in it. No one could possibly swim in those swimsuits. They wouldn’t last half way across the pool without falling apart, but you have to admit, they are shiny and pretty.
Around their necks hang a lanyard with a small sign reading “INSTRUCTOR.” And you realize why they are wearing such goofy swimsuits in a pool: they aren’t actually swimming. You ponder quietly whether they even know how. Sometimes your pool thoughts get a little snarky.
And as you ponder, you mosey down to the deep end. You notice right away that it’s far less crowded and everyone is busy swimming. There are a couple of swimmers wearing those “INSTRUCTOR” badges, but their swimsuits look far different — not a rhinestone to be found. They are actual swimsuits — not flashy or gaudy… just serious swimwear made of strong material.
And you notice something else: instead of standing still talking, these swimmers are engaged in the process of swimming. Some are working quite hard at it. Now and then, they will stop to converse with other swimmers in the deep end, giving them advice on technique before continuing their swim.
You climb into the pool and allow the water to wash over you. It feels fantastic. You’ve been coming to this pool for a long time and although it’s gone through some changes, you still love it.
And then, you hear the whispers among your fellow deep end swimmers: the bedazzled “swimming instructors” in the shallow end are peeing in the pool.
At first, you don’t worry. After all, you are in the deep end. This is a very, very big pool. You scoot as far as you can to the other end. You hope the whispers are wrong. You hope you are far enough away that it won’t affect you. You pray, “Dear Baby Jesus in a Manger, let them be wrong!” Because if they are right, it will ruin the entire pool.
And then… you feel it.
The water temperature just got warmer. It’s as though a Gulf Stream of pee just flowed by your leg. There’s no ignoring it, now. You thought you were far enough away; you thought that what happened in the shallow end wouldn’t affect you. You stayed in your own lane; you minded your own business; YOU DID YOU, but dammit, those non-swimming rhinestone swimsuit wearers are affecting EVERYONE.
And you wonder what those in the shallow end must be feeling. Do they even know they are standing in pee? Have they been standing in pee so long they don’t know what it feels like NOT to stand in pee? They are learning to swim by these bedazzled non-swimmers; what if they are taught to pee in the pool, too?
There’s simply not enough chlorine to handle all that pee.
As you climb out of the pool to wash off, you watch as a handful of shallow end swimmers also try to get out. You can see the disgust on their face. They must have realized it, too. I say “TRY” to get out, because the minute they attempt to climb out of the pool, they are ridiculed by both the bedazzled pee-ers and those around them perfectly content to stand in the pee. A few succumb and climb back into the pee, even going so far as to ask forgiveness from those peeing, and ultimately defending the pee.
And you stand on the edge of this once lovely pool, and you realize you are faced with a decision. You can leave and never come back, of course. Maybe take up another form of exercise. Hiking? Tennis? Zumba? You wish Margarita Drinking were a sport, because then your choice would be easy.
But staring at the water, even filled with pee, your heart aches, because you love this pool. You’ve been coming here almost all your life. You remember when the pool was clean and sparkling. You’ve met wonderful people at the pool: good, strong swimmers who have enriched your life; swimmers as committed to swimming, actual SWIMMING, as you are.
No, leaving is not an option. Why should pool pee-ers be allowed to stay and change the health and conditions of the pool? They don’t care about the pool or they wouldn’t be peeing in it. Heck, most of them don’t even SWIM! One even misspelled their badge: “instrukter.”
So, wrapping your towel tightly around you, you vow with firm resolve to help make the pool better for everyone.
You will speak up when you see pee.
You will call out the pee.
You will defend those as outraged as you are over the pee.
You will remind people that just because the pee doesn’t affect you NOW, doesn’t mean it won’t eventually.
Because there is no peeing section in a pool… we are all in this together.
About the author: Missy Mwac is a photography satirist, a lover of bacon, a drinker of vodka, a lover of sparkle, and a guide through the murky waters of professional photography. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can connect with her on her website, Tumblr, and Facebook. This article was also published here.