By KAREN FOLEY
Last year I spent a number of days hiking in the remote countryside of Patagonia in late November. My first day back in a hotel room, I flipped on the television and was shocked at what I witnessed. Images of riots flashed across the screen. Fist fights and physical altercations were breaking out in the masses of people gathered. Spanish language announcers were using such words as “loca,” “disparatado,”and “demente.”
Was I watching a military coupe? Was this the Spanish spring? No, it was the international coverage of Black Friday shopping in America.
Every year you hear the stories and see the images of crazed people fighting over bargain priced sales. In this case, it was a vegetable steamer – a vegetable steamer – that was the cause of all the fuss. But in my – let’s just say ample – years on this planet, I have yet to witness such carnage. Does it exist – sure it does, in small pockets. But Black Friday is less of an event and more of a cliché that is overhyped and over covered by the media.
And that should be your inspiration for creating great Black Friday images. Capture the cliché. Photographers are always looking to create images that speak a thousand words – and that’s what capturing the cliché means.
For Black Friday, the clichés are:
It’s all about over consumption – so over emphasize it. Show shopping carts stuffed with toys. Create images with shoppers laden down with bags and packages. Have car trunks bulging with bags as they roll down the street with a Christmas tree on top. Anything that represents overspending and mass consumption belongs in these pictures.
Black Friday started as a day to offer popular gift ideas at low costs to entice shoppers into stores the day after Thanksgiving but it has evolved. It’s evolved into a frenzy-shopping environment caused by mass discounts on a limited supply of popular items in the big box stores. Rather than risk life and limb on the actual shopping day, stage relatives in make believe shopping altercations of store aisles. Create images that show deep discounts on electronics and home goods. Simply show the store windows with the 25 percent off signs, 50 percent off signs and more.
Long lines and early shoppers
With stores opening earlier and earlier every year, Black Friday has become synonymous with shoppers camping out in lines outside stores as soon as the turkey has been cleared from the table. Have fun with that idea and create a scene of chefs cooking Thanksgiving while in line at a store – or if you can swing it, inside the store itself. Photograph the long lines outside with tents and armchairs. Create scenes that represent both the happy side and the crazy side of what can happen when that many people are in that small of a space for that long amount of time.
Then add the Jerry Springer scenes of women wrestling flat panel TV on the ground or police officers trying to intervene when one turkey fryer is claimed by two people. After all, you can’t have the chaos without the drama.
Unofficial start to the Christmas season
Black Friday used to be the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season – but if you look at the stores these days, that honor has now gone to Halloween. So add a few images that represent your take on this “be ahead of the curve” trend when “Orange Wednesday” rolls around next year.
This is just an example of using one social phenomenon to capture the cliché in pictures. Try this with other holidays and annual events to create the images everyone wants to see. Oh, and while your at it, you might get lucky enough to capture an actual Black Friday knockdown drag-out fight. Just depends if the vegetable steamers are on sale again this year.
KAREN FOLEY is a contributing writer for The Buzz Insider. She is a professional photographer and writer who loves sharing her art with the world. You can check out more of her work at Karen Foley Photography.
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Article Images courtesy of Karen Foley/Dreamstime.com