For years, Philosophers have tried to find an answer to the problem of moral luck – the question of how we can be responsible for our actions when we lack ultimate control over them. Perhaps Lomography has a solution!
The Problem of Luck
How can we be held responsible for what we do when so much just seems to be a matter of luck? This is one of the fundamental problems in moral philosophy. Let’s examine the problem a little closer by looking at a few stories involving two photographers, Jill and Jim:
Jill and Jim have spent the day at the beach. As the sun sets, both Jill and Jim rush for their cameras to get a photo of the amazing scene. Jill shoots and gets the perfect snap. But the shutter on Jim’s old camera gets stuck and he misses out on this ideal photo opportunity. When they get their films developed, everyone loves Jill’s photo. But poor Jim is very sad, he could have had that dream photo too if it wasn’t for his camera malfunction! But isn’t this unfair? It wasn’t Jim’s fault that his shutter didn’t work – He wanted that photo just as much as Jill did. It was just bad luck that he didn’t get it. So why do we praise Jill for her photo and not Jim for his near-photo?
Jill goes on holiday but Jim has to stay at home and work. Whilst on holiday, Jill takes the most amazing photos of exotic wildlife, picturesque scenery and her friends having fun. But Jim has no time to take any photos – he’s got too much work to do. Jill comes home with some truly awesome holiday snaps – Jim is very jealous, he could have had those photos if he didn’t have to work 9-5! But again, Jill gets praised for her photographic genius whilst no-body cares about Jim’s excuses. Isn’t this unfair? It’s just a matter of luck that Jill was able to go holiday and Jim wasn’t. Jim would have loved to go on holiday too.
It’s all in the genes…
Photography comes so naturally to Jill. She just knows where to aim and when to click the shutter to take the best photos. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of Jim. He’s always accidentally leaving his camera on the ‘bulb’ setting. People tell Jill how wonderful her photos are but no-one pays much attention to Jim’s blurred images. But isn’t this a little unfair? It’s not really Jim’s fault that he wasn’t born with that keen photographer’s eye. It’s just his bad luck (again!!). Jim would love to be a good photographer, it just doesn’t come naturally to him.
The Pleasures of Lomographic Luck
Poor Jim, you have to feel sorry for him! But as Lomographers, we know the situation isn’t all bad. Yes, sometimes we’re unlucky and get photos that don’t turn out so well – But that just makes the ones that do turn out well that bit more special. And it’s hard to imagine someone being quite as unlucky as Jim. Sure, there will be times when our camera won’t work as we want it too or we might accidentally leave it on the ‘Bulb’ setting – But sometimes you’ll also get an remarkable surprise when a photo you thought you messed up somehow just works. It’s luck which makes analogue photography so much fun! And as Lomographers, we often love the mistakes as much as the well thought out plans.
So let’s celebrate the results and worry less about the problems in the process! As Lomographers, we care less for reasons or explanations, and more about the stunning beauty that exists naturally around us. We just accept the world as it is, click that shutter and enjoy the results – good or bad, blurred or unblurred.
And regarding the question of responsibility, the Lomographer is likely to reply ‘Who cares Mr. Philosopher!!’. Who cares if it’s a matter of luck that Jill has an eye for photos and Jim doesn’t? Not us for sure! The Lomography community welcomes all – novices, professionals, whatever – We want to see Jim’s blurry photos!!!
Of course, the problem of moral luck is still a troublesome issue – It’s caused Philosophers sleepless nights for many years and a bit of bedroom ‘Lomographising’ isn’t going to change that. Check out this Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Moral Luck if you want to learn more about it, and the specific philosophical problems it causes.