The “Good Life”

A photographic perspective on consumerism by Robin Macmillan.

Shopping Spree
Title: Shopping Spree
Models: Jade, Tim and Amy

Consumerism. It is defined as “a social and economic order and ideology that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts”.

The result is a shift towards materialism, disconnection and competition that leaves us confused about what we need and what we think we need. Big business and marketing strategies know exactly how to feed into our instant gratification and more is more culture. This is environmentally unsustainable. It would be impossible to look at reducing environmental pollution without looking at reducing consumerism.
It’s a simple question to ask yourself, “Do I need this or do I want this?”
The “Good Life” is a short series that poses that exact question through a juxtaposition of “simple and happy” to “excessive and miserable”. What do you consider the “good life” to be?

To help with this series I asked for help from the people I felt have a uniquely strong, respectful, intricate and protective tie to the land, First Nations. They not only have a connection of love and spirituality to the land but also a great sense of responsibility to protect it for future generations. We have a very powerful message to learn from these communities.

Mama’s Going To Buy You A Mocking Bird
Title: Mama’s Going To Buy You A Mocking Bird
Models: Jade, Krista, Darius and Luke

Even though this series is small in size it has been over a year in the making. Some of you who follow my work will be familiar with my Footprints series which tackles different ecological issues we face. When it came to consumerism I struggled with summing everything up in one photograph and knew I wanted to say more. Ideas were born and the long process of orchestrating the photos started.

As always, it has been a tremendous education for me in more ways then one. This time though, what I learned about consumerism seemed to pale in comparison to what I learned about our First Nations. I went to my first few Pow Wows this summer and learned about traditions, regalia, dance, history, treaties, education, health care and environmental concerns. I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous to approach a subject in my life but I was welcomed with open arms. I couldn’t have done this series without the help of Jade Willoughby who not only took the time out of her busy modelling schedule to be a part of this but collaborated with me and gave me guidance to what was appropriate in conveying my message. Thank you Jade!

I may not be perfect when it comes to consumerism, especially as a photographer who has to keep up with constant technological advancement, but we have started to make changes in this household. When my daughter is out with me shopping and she sees something she wants, we now ask each other the question “do we need this or do we just want this?” It’s much easier to walk away from an impulse buy when you ask this of yourself. Our goal is to simplify. Gandhi once said “There is enough on earth for everybody’s need, but not everyone’s greed.” Words to tuck into your mind for the next time you head out to “grab a few things.”

All I Want
Title: All I Want
Models: Aurora and Claudia
Notes: All wrapped presents were rented from a prop shop and were not purchased.


One Comment

  1. Greg Beaton says:

    Well done and so true. Why are people so quick to believe they need all the trappings. Picture the walker with the water bottle belt and the walking poles. Really??? you need those to walk??? I guess they just need an excuse to buy something.