Bathroom Graffiti and Photo Blogging

April 5, 2005 — -- Mother told you not to write on bathroom walls, but did she say anything about photographing restroom graffiti and posting it on the Internet?

I'm not sure if it's wise -- or even legal -- to snap pictures inside a men's room at a bus station in Phoenix, but that's what some photo bloggers call art. And while you can debate its artistic merit, you can't deny its popularity.

More than a million people a day are logging onto -- a photo blogging community that registered its 1 millionth member a little over a month ago. It now boasts more than 180,000 new images each day, including some of the strangest photos you'll ever see.

One blog features images of "Sad Umbrellas" strewn on streets and abandoned in trash cans all over the world. Other blogs allow users to show off their babies, puppies and latest tattoos.

"It can be a benign form of rubbernecking," says Fotolog co-founder Adam Seifer. "A photo blog is often a little window into someone else's life. It can be whimsical and addicting."

Combining two of the hottest trends -- Web logs and digital photography -- with humanity's endless appetite for voyeurism apparently pays dividends. Fotolog is attracting more than 750 million page views a month.

The Web site, now in its third year, doesn't allow sexually explicit or gory images, but just about anything else goes. Some examples:

Clean Laundry -- What's the one thing that might be more disturbing than dirty laundry? Perhaps it's an obsession with someone else's clean laundry. A group of bloggers are hung out to dry with images of underpants from all over the world.

Grammerpuss -- Grammatical misfortunes and spelling blunders pictured on road signs, storefronts and public service messages. Perhaps you're looking for a service station with an adjoining diner that boasts a sign that says "Eat Here and Get Gas!"

Orwellian -- You'd better watch what you're doing, because you know someone else is. The Orwellian Blog is a daily dose of surveillance cameras peering out from building crevices and other unlikely spots. Big Brother is watching, and his prying peepers are ready to catch you in the act of something inappropriate.

Amour -- Bloggers from 200 countries upload pictures of lip-lockers in action. The happy couples must agree to have their pictures posted. Some of them look like they really enjoy having their photos posted.

Necropolis -- Spanning the globe for the creepiest graveyards on Earth.

With so many cell phones equipped with cameras, mobile photo blogging -- or "Moblogging" -- is becoming commonplace and uploads are instantaneous, especially when news breaks.

After the Dec. 26 tsunami barreled across Asia, members all over the world posted photos, some showing devastated areas, others recording relief efforts in their own communities. Many blogs this week are devoted to the legacy of Pope John Paul II.

"You should see it, when there's an eclipse," says Seifer. "You'll see a perspective from city to city."

Anyone can sign up and begin posting pictures for free. But once you get hooked, you may subscribe to Fotolog's premium services to load up on additional space for pictures and comments from visitors.

"Unlike traditional blogs, where you have to come up with something interesting to write every day, a photo blog lets someone express themselves with images," says Seifer. "And that's more relevant for some people."

Seifer certainly isn't discouraging eccentrics from joining Fotolog. On his own "Get in My Belly!" blog, he's photographed every meal he's eaten for the last 30 months.

Talk about a feast for your eyes: More than 20,000 people tune in each week to check out Seifer's latest bowl of Lucky Charms or Chinese takeout. The visitors' comments have proven to be food for thought.

"A guy from one country wrote that he had never before seen bananas on breakfast cereal," he said. "They don't do that where he comes from, so it was an eye-opening picture to him."

I've got to hand it to Seifer. I can't imagine photographing every meal I eat, but that could be the makings for America's next great foolproof diet.

Buck Wolf is entertainment producer at "The Wolf Files" is published Tuesdays.