I’ve mentioned before, I have occasionally considered splitting off the portions of the blog devoted to critical-thinking from those discussing photography – the main part of the site is, after all, about nature photography, so the latter posts are certainly appropriate to the theme. But there’s a bigger reason, and it’s that I’m an outspoken atheist in the bible belt, while I advertise my services as a photography instructor. There is no doubt that I am losing at least some business because of this.
Which is pretty silly, to be honest. I don’t talk about atheism, or religion at all, or critical-thinking, or 80s music, or the proper way of making tacos, when I’m with students. I used to do wedding photography as well, and that meant going into churches and even waiting through the ceremonies – and believe me, some of them were pretty ridiculous. But I long ago learned a bit of professionalism, which means I know what’s appropriate and what’s not. When I’m with a student or giving a presentation, you wouldn’t know (and couldn’t guess) my views on religion. I even have religious friends, and my dad does guest sermons.
[There are some religious folk who seem to believe that atheists are immoral, actively evil, nihilistic, and so on – this is not too surprising to those in the US who have seen it firsthand, but somewhat more so to Europeans who get almost no exposure to rabid fundamentalism. To these religious folk, however, atheism equates with satanism, never tumbling to the idea that considering all religion to be mythological pretty much trashes satan too.]
A blog is a place to air ideas, to vent, and (at least in my case) to practice writing – the personality that one may perceive from a blog might have little to do with how someone is in person, and this can be said for most forms of online personae. I imagine many Facebook users are not silly and vapid, and most of those commenting on YouTube are entrusted with more than spoons and crayons. Yet, I’m not sure everyone understands this, and whether the number of students I receive would increase if the critical-thinking, more-obviously-secular-and-atheistic posts just weren’t linked at all. While this site is not exactly setting fire to the internet, or liable to crash any servers anytime soon, it still garners traffic, so having any intention at all of addressing thoughts to people at large means that splitting off to another site/subdomain/whatever will reduce the audience by a significant margin. I don’t see that serving much of a purpose.
I’ve toyed with the idea of making some brief explanation on the photography instruction page, but that presents a dilemma all its own: did I just bring such posts to the attention of people who normally would never have noticed? Is there any way of subtly broaching the subject, without sounding cagey? Or is there some way of presenting this information only after someone finds the posts? Obviously, even this one will disappear into the depths eventually, and it must also be considered that those who view any of the religion-trashing posts with horror are unlikely to keep browsing.
Then there’s the idea that, perhaps, I’d just rather reach clients who are grown-up enough to handle it; I’m already rather impatient with people tending towards fundamentalism, because it very often impacts a lot of what they do, even their overall attitude and perspective. I’m going to repeat an earlier sentiment here too: if anyone is disturbed by the thought of taking photo lessons from an atheist, if this somehow threatens their faith, then it’s probably better that they’re forewarned, because it doesn’t sound like their faith was very robust in the first place.
So I guess it will stand this way for now, but this is the kind of self-evaluation that one gets to do with a website and blog, with the added bonus of never knowing what the right answer really is. Doesn’t that sound like fun?