All She Wrote: No photos, please

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Nicole_Crewsby Nicole Crews

I’ve been skulking around High Point Market pre-opening events and parties, and I have to say that the only thing that got loaded was my bag of swag. Even my camera was spared the visual hangover.

Laugh if you will, but it’s a recurring theme in my life. Whether on a work junket or vacation, I’m usually the snap-happiest kid in the room — and the photos are usually of… well, rooms. I don’t know why I have this compulsion to photo-document living spaces. Maybe it’s because my mother was a furniture and interior designer or maybe it’s just because the way we live — or aspire to live — is interesting to me.

All I know is that while attending the Thai Cooking School at the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok I shot at least six rolls (yes, this was the pre-digital era) of the school itself — with few food shots in between. The newly opened and adjacent lotus flower-laden spa was the subject of at least three independent rolls that clicked off as effluviently as the Chao Phraya River on whose bank it resides.

When I was in college and studying at Universidad Complutense in Madrid, I did a photo essay on multi-generational living that was comprised largely of living and dining rooms of Madrilenos.

Like many, I often equate how we live with levels of sophistication, regionality and life priorities. I love the mess of large families, the life-editing that living with dogs requires. I love the intellectual bric a brac of worldly thinkers, the tidy femininity of Southern ladies, the chaos and clink of dudes. Yep, I’m an egalitarian voyeur when it comes to rooms with or without a view.

Maybe it’s just a visual thing that opens a whole new world of storytelling.

Many editors and writers like me originated as creatures of the black-and-white page — word nerds who like to let the reader’s imagination do the illustrating. It worked. It still does, but in midst of the information age it can be limiting. In today’s digital world of multimedia information sources where online, print and video merge, attention span is truncated and images hit harder and faster than the time it takes to write about it a scene. The four-wall prison of the typewritten page has been Shawshanked.

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Nicole (back) reporting on the furniture market for USA Today. [photo by Scott Crowder]

It’s like Steve Jobs said: “The overall point is that new technology will not necessarily replace old technology, but it will date it. By definition.  Eventually it will replace it. But it’s like people who had black-and-white TVs when color came out. They eventually decided whether or not the new technology was worth the investment.”

And that brings us back to High Point, where the square footage of furniture spaces alone is enough to turn to tech instead of hoofing it. The market is still written about for sure, but it’s tweeted, Instagrammed, Facebooked and pinned long before most stories are filed — so photographers and the snap-happy are kept on a short leash, especially before the doors officially open on Saturday. So whether you are a design hound like me, a buyer, an exhibitor or just curious about what happens in High Point — know that it’s a lot like Vegas.

What happens there stays there. At least until social media tells the story.