I've seen photography products that have made me laugh at their silliness. I've seen products that have made me roll my eyes at their absurdity. But it wasn't until I saw this product that I audibly cursed at my computer screen in sheer disbelief.
It's not exactly a secret that guns are a major problem; the United States is in the midst of a major crisis involving racial divides, guns, and police relations. In particular, questionably justified police shootings have been making national and world headlines for quite some time.
That's why when I saw this accessory for the Olympus Air, I was flabbergasted. The designers have produced 3D-printing plans for a grip that makes the system essentially look like a snubnose revolver. Anyone can purchase these and quickly turn their camera into a gun look-alike. The designers are clearly aware of the implication, also showing off a tactical sight and a holster for the system. They even won an award for it.
To say I'm appalled is an understatement. What is the point of this? Is it the "cool" factor? The designers claim it is ideal for the Air system (which lacks a screen) because it obviates the need for a viewfinder or screen. Just point and shoot (pun sadly intended). It doesn't take much imagination to realize that if you're taking a picture of a person with this accessory, it looks very much like you're pointing a gun at their face.
Of course, gun culture in Japan (where this was designed) is vastly different from what it is in the U.S. Nonetheless, any device that possibly indistinguishably mimics a life-ending weapon both in its looks and its usage seems to only be asking for serious consequences. Furthermore, the prints can be purchased by anyone, anywhere. Your political views aside, does an accessory whose intended use will almost surely create serious misunderstandings that can possibly lead to life-threatening consequences have any place in photography? Let us know in the comments.
Lead image by Shota Fukujima, used under Creative Commons.