James Thurber’s eponymous hero is given to flights of fancy where he imagines he is a hero of differing sorts, living out his fantasies to release him from a somewhat humdrum existence. Two of those characters are impressed on my memory, the Fighter Pilot and the Surgeon, and they appear in my mind’s eye on the occasions when I’m reading somewhat over egged and spurious accounts in the press, of actions or deeds, especially in today’s climate of ‘celebrity worship’.
Now I’m not immune from the ‘Mitty’ syndrome, if there is such a thing, I quite often get it when out with the camera, and I suspect I am not alone in suffering it.
What are the symptoms?
Looking through the viewfinder and getting a sudden rush of adrenaline, feeling that you are about to capture the picture of all time, the one that will bring you fame, and perhaps fortune, when it’s displayed in the most prestigious galleries around the world. Another symptom is when playing with the sliders on Lightroom and filters on Photoshop, there is that feeling that you and you alone have discovered a combination of actions and manipulations totally unique to the photographic world that will mark you down as a photographer extraordinaire. You may even get an image into the Taylor Wessing competition or an exhibition in the Photographers’ Gallery! The BJP may even give you a mention! You may even get E-mails tinged with jealousy from Martin Parr and William Eggleston!
Arty-farty critics will be lining up to tell you why you took the picture and what your inner feelings were when you did so, instead of you just thinking it was a good idea at the time!
Good old Walter Mitty, thanks for teaching us to have those wonderful flights of fancy that makes photography the delightful pastime that it is.