Above: Publicity photo of James McAvoy as Kevin Crumb. Credit: Universal/Fair use.

Strobe Warning

In the 2019 paranoia-and-conspiracy pervaded film Glass, the high-risk strongman The Beast (one of Kevin Crumb's multiple personalities) is subdued in his cell at a secure unit with two banks of what look very much like ordinary photo-studio strobe-flash lamps. In order to quell The Beast any hospital orderly or psychiatrist can trigger the penetrating-bright flash lamps as necessary. Bright photo-flash is also famously used as a format of self-defense counter-measure against attack by photographer L.B. Jeffries in Hitchcock's film Rear Window as he goes up against the murderer Lars Thorwald.

Bright studio strobe-flash can cause multiple negative ill-effects in the sitter including: headaches, dizziness, vomiting, fainting, wooziness, blacking-out, giddiness, lightheadedness, and confusion. And these effects can be experienced second-hand too: TV-news anchors have to pre-warn (by law) their viewers of any upcoming flash photography in video clips.

Considered this way, the strobe flash is like a weapon. Strobe flash is a machine which causes discomfort and suffering. Photographers seem to forget about the strobe's health impact: they are immune to its power-to-nauseate. Given this list of unwanted side-effects, it surely can't be long before (in this great epoch of H&S) a photographer shooting a sitter using a classic studio-strobe setup (such as Bowens and Elinchrom) will require a signed-off agreement from the subject to be completed--with a list of the potential risks required to be read-over by the model--before any photography can commence.

(1 February 2019)