Reddit. Heard of it? For those of you that don't waste potentially productive hours on social media, Reddit is a social network where anonymous posters submit links, photos, and web content to be voted upon by other posters. Upvotes move your post up. Downvotes move them down. There's a Redditquette involved. There are subreddits. World politics, NFL, and Game of Thrones are just three of what seems like an unlimited number of subcultures that are represented on Reddit. This story takes place in a galaxy far, far away, in the subreddit of Star Wars.
Let's back up a bit. Every Halloween, we end up buying costumes last minute. We are not a Halloween family. We like candy. We just don't get hyped up. No decorations other than our quick-to-mold jack-o-lanterns that the property management throws away for us due to the unsightly scene of green, sagging pumpkins in front of our door. This year, we got into Halloween a little more. This year, our oldest also got into that certain, special space franchise as old as me: Star Wars. So, naturally, he chose to be none other than Luke Skywalker. Which makes me Darth Vader?
So, we order his costume. He was adamant that he be the Luke from Empire Strikes Back, or as he calls it: the snowy Star Wars. When it arrived, us parents were probably a little more excited than he. I even read the directions. I never read directions. We put the costume on him, climaxing with the placement of the plastic (but surprisingly decent quality) helmet on him, and he immediately starts acting out the battle on Hoth. "Attack pattern Delta: go now!" (he actually says this.)
So we feel pretty awesome. I started daydreaming about the day when he's telling his friends at his wedding about the time his pops dressed him up as Luke, and how it was the most excellent of Halloweens ever to be experienced by any child, automatically making his dad father-of-the-century. I snapped out of it, thinking, "Oh my God. I must document this. I'll have to take this photo as proof of my parenting skills."
I pull out all the stops. White seamless paper barely taped to the wall. Shoot-through umbrella on a cheap knockoff speedlight. Don't foget the blue lightsaber. Oh wait, where's that R2-D2 popcorn holder from Disneyland? Ok, ready to rock. Hey, stand there. Ok, you're Luke! Do Luke things! I was pretty satisfied with the results:
I immediately work on sharing this masterpiece online. Surely, Facebook friends will appreciate this, even though most of them are sick of people posting photos of their kids. This photo will transcend petty social media hang-ups. Instagram needs to see this. I mean, come on, it's cute!
I end up getting pretty decent numbers. Anything over 20 justifies my existence as a human. I'm pretty pumped, and that's the end. Until weeks later, I gather the guts to post this photo to Reddit. Reddit can be intimidating. I've always been a lurker. I rarely posted or commented, and when I did, I made sure that I hemmed and hawed, qualifying anything I said, and activated self-effacing humor powers. I go to the Star Wars subreddit, and post this picture at 8:15am, and wait.
I check back every minute or so. 8:30, 169 upvotes. Mother of God. 197. 8:41am, 300 and counting. Good Lord. 9:00, 700. It gets to be a little unhealthy, as I start to just hit refresh to see the upvotes pour in. By 12:45 that day, I had amassed over 3000 upvotes. Unreal. But that's not the end of it. On Reddit, you can comment. And, these comments also get voted on: "Parenting: you're doing it right." "I'm calling ESB the Snowy Star Wars from now on." "Ruke!"
So the experience was pretty exhilarating. In a way, I felt validated. Right? I mean, almost 4000 people deem your photo worthy of seeing. I must've hit the center of a strange Venn diagram of Star Wars fans, photography, and parenting. And, the comments blew me away. Flattering. Funny. Mildly racist. It was all good. I reached people, man. Isn't that the point of this? Got me to thinking: how can I do photography and really make a difference in the world. I mean for my kids, and my kids' kids. Other people's kids. I'll have to get back to you on that.