Humor by Greg Schwem

Recent news events have made it necessary for me to have yet another Big Talk with my daughters.

Both have had the Sex Talk (my wife thankfully handled that one) and the Stranger Danger Talk (I took that one). But now that my 10-year-old is showing an interest in photography, meaning she has discovered the camera on her iTouch, I am forced to sit her down and have the Photo Talk. And it won't hurt her 15-year-old sister to get a refresher course.

Growing up, I never had the Photo Talk. I received a Kodak Pocket Instamatic for Christmas in 1973 and spent the rest of the day snapping pictures of my relatives when they least expected it. I would creep up behind them clutching the flat, rectangular piece of plastic, shout "HEY!" and snap when they turned around. The flashcube, vital unless you wanted to pay for 24 prints of sheer blackness, exploded in their faces. Yet they never demanded I relinquish the film or the developed prints. Back then, incriminating photos were met with gales of laughter, not lawsuits and cash offers. I never thought to take any of my pictures to school and say, "Here's my Aunt Sophie right after she put on her face cream. Let's start the bidding at 50 bucks."

Today the Photo Talk is vital because, next to a driver's license, cameras are a parent's worst nightmare. Tiny lenses seem to be omnipresent. Got an iPad? You have a camera! Got a cellphone? Congratulations! You have two cameras! Got a new washing machine? I'm certain some manufacturer is currently drawing up plans to insert a lens right above the "rinse" button so we can photograph ourselves while applying stain remover.

Since being introduced to the concept of "point, shoot, upload and share," both my daughters have taken thousands of pictures, including self-portraits of their nostrils, molars, elbows and ear canals. Ironically, these are the same girls who threaten to lock themselves in their rooms for three days if my wife and I dare send out the "dorky" holiday card photo we take each year.

Both girls considered their photographic talents to be harmless -- yet until we had the Photo Talk, neither had heard about the exploits of Alexa Dell and Prince Harry.

Alexa is the 18-year-old daughter of billionaire Michael Dell, who pioneered the idea of selling computers over the Internet and also is credited with inventing exorbitant hold times while technical support calls are rerouted to India. I keep trying to add the latter to Dell's Wikipedia page but so far have yet to succeed.

Reports paint Dell as an intensely private man (never mind that his name is on three PCs and two printers in my house) who spends millions on his family's security detail. Unfortunately for Alexa, her allowance may soon be contributing to the security kitty after she allegedly posted photos on her Twitter account, unaware that the sneaky people who run the social networking behemoth have made sure every picture uploaded to Twitter contains other information. The photographer's exact location, for example. It's called geotagging and although it can be turned off, Alexa apparently never figured out how. Neither did her dad's security team; instead they skipped ahead and disabled Alexa's Twitter account.

The Prince, as everyone knows, was photographed in a Las Vegas hotel suite with his hands placed over jewels one won't see in the Tower of London. The grainy image was taken with a camera phone and within days was on display everywhere except milk cartons. I began the Photo Talk by recounting both episodes and then plowed deeper ahead.

"You know that pictures on the Internet are there forever, right?"

"We know, Dad."

"And you know if you're doing something illegal or just plain stupid, somebody could be photographing you, right?"

"We know that, too."

"And you know that if someone else in the picture is doing something stupid, you're going to be guilty by association."

"We know, Dad."

"And never get into a car with someone who offers you candy."

"Dad, you're mixing up your Big Talks."


Finally, I posed a question.

"Why do you need to take and share so many photos?"

"Because it's fun," my eldest responded. "Don't you wish you had Facebook or Instagram when you were in school?"

No, but probably because I wore glasses and braces until I was 17. I would have uploaded all photos of myself to my orthodontist and optometrist along with a message: "ARE WE ALMOST DONE?"

Meeting dismissed, my girls left the room. Like the other Big Talks, I can only hope my words remain in their heads forever. Just as I can't stop them from texting while driving, neither can I stop them from taking part in today's Photography Revolution or other dangers that technology hath wrought.

I just wish today's cameras still needed a flashcube to function.

And I wish each cube cost $250.

Humorist Greg Schwem is a stand-up comedian and author of Text Me If You're Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad

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