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  1. #1
    Forum Mathematics Geek Agent Dwarf's Avatar
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    "Web developement as a job is a joke"

    Note: You probably clicked this thread because of the title. I do not necessarily share that opinion.

    Anyway, I was talking to a friend of mine on AIM, and he said exactly that. Before you say "He doesn't know anything about computers!" think again, because he himself is a freelance web developer.

    He continued "Unless you work for a big company, where you get a steady income, working as a freelance web developer is a joke. You can't make a living off of it, especially with the economy the way it is. Besides, every couple of years the technology completely changes."

    What do you think? No personal attacks, please.

  2. #2
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    It may be difficult to make steady income as a "freelance" web developer, but if it's your "job" with a company it's not a joke.
    It's a necessary position with many companies. Some companies have their IT staff handle their website(s), and they do not have a dedicated position to just web developing, but it would depend on the type of company, and the size.

  3. #3
    runat="server" Golgotha's Avatar
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    Well I have a job as a software developer, where I use a lot of web technologies, notice I didn't call myself a webmaster. I do more than just handle all their web needs. I build POS interfaces and KIOSK software, although I use a lot of web tools most of the stuff I do never leaves the LAN.

    Anyways, from what I've seen, I have to agree with your friend. The freelance web design market is not for most people, or should I say most people that have bills to pay.
    Just stop by the Trading Post forum. There's guys there doing work for 10, 20, 100 bucks. That's just fine for high-schoolers or college kids, but that's not going to feed a family.

    The web design market is HIGHLY saturated these days. You better have a diverse range of skills and a thirst for knowledge.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Addict smcausland's Avatar
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    I think it depends on what you want from it.

    Unless you enjoy the chase as much as the catch and can chase well enough to make a living free lance web design definetely isn't something your going to enjoy.

    I don't think it's a joke but its no way to make a living if your looking for an easy road:-).

    As to things changing every couple of years. Sure a lot of things do but on the other hand there was a thread going earlier about how a site from 1997 still looked good and followed all the rules of a well designed site.

    The biggest reason I find most freelancers hate it so much is they don't find they can spend the time doing the part of the business they like. They spend the majority of the time on the things they don't enjoy.
    www.treelinestudio.com
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  5. #5
    SitePoint Zealot Lauren's Avatar
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    I'm a college student and I make enough money to pay for my software. By the time I graduate I'll have enough clients for my brother to make money when I turn it over to him (yep, he begs me for work now, but he only wants to do the fun stuff and wants me to pay premium for help).
    Lauren and Auster



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  6. #6
    What's HTML?
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    Using any skill free lance is much more than simply applying the skill. You also have to market yourself. Without marketing, you won't pay your bills. With marketing, you'll be just fine.
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  7. #7
    + platinum's Avatar
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    I think it's very hard to earn enough to do 'freelancing' as a full time job -- I do it, and earn enough to pay for most things I need, I live at a college though, so I don't pay for living there, and don't have to pay for many 'real life' things right now. I can see how you could survive, but the main problem is the works not ALWAYS there, sometimes there's like 5 jobs going at once and othertimes theres nothing for a while...

    But I know of a few people that started freelancing, and basically went straight into a largish company -- that way all they have to worry about is the work and no taxes, hunting clients, and all the rest

  8. #8
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    Hello,

    In my opinion everyone can call himself web developer..
    they do some sites and that's it. This way your job is a joke!

    Now as Golgotha said, try implementing some complex system, that may involve or not the web, Intranets, Extranets, Content Management Systems, Software Applications, E-Commerce Packages and so on.... i can guarantee you it's not a joke! Specially if you are a qualified person, not someone that just read 2 books and started doing sites.

    I completed a 5-year Computer Engineering major... and i can easily live from this (full-time), my job is not a joke.

    Just my $0.02,

    Rui
    http://dsense.net

  9. #9
    Skills to Pay the Bills Sparkie's Avatar
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    There are so many "web design/development" companies out there these days, that it would be easy to say that having such a job is a joke.

    I've been a freelance designer for the last 5+ years, and can tell you that starting out is no piece of cake. Getting established, marketing your brand name and products, and monitoring your promotional campaigns is a lot of work, but the rewards are tenfold. I've just recently made enough earnings from my work to pay for my entire college tuition when I go to pursue my Master's degree in eBusiness.
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  10. #10
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    I wouldn't say "developer" I'd say designer.

    Developer to me means you have programming skills, which can translate to other fields.

    Plenty of people call themselves website designers and all they know is FrontPage or Dreamweaver.

    Right now I consider it a joke because there are so many amateurs out there. You say "I'm a web design" and its not a very respectful position - "ya, so is my 14 year old kid."

    I think as time progresses this will get better, people will get higher standards as far as quality and knowledge go. These "FrontPage Companies" will evaporate.

    There are plenty of people who jumped on this bandwagon because it looked easy, they thought they were good at it, and they wanted to make a quick buck - but turns out they aren't good at it. Once those people get pushed out the industry will be more respectful.

    Nevertheless - "web design" or "HTML coder" is a very low skilled low paying job. You might be able to extort a high out of an ignorant client but if all you know is HTML you're at the bottom wrung (and if all you know is FrontPage you're even lower).

    Graphic Designers can make much more, they should have mastered graphics programs like Illustrator, PhotoShop, and layout programs like Quark and PageMaker (right). For a graphic designer web design should just be a small aspect of their skills. HTML can be learned in a week. So a graphic designer can design web pages, brochures, layouts for commercials, print ads, whatever.

    Web developers can also make more because you can do so much more than just design. You can code intranet/internet applications - and maybe even some desktop aps.

    But a "web designer" is a bottom wrung job. I literally laugh at people who say they want to go to school to be a web designer. Its like wanting to go to school to be a receptionist.

    If you spend 2 years to get some technical degree in Web Design you will have wasted 2 years of your life. You will have learned from instructors who likely don't know a thing about the industry - they're teachers from other fields who themselves took a class on web design. They likely have never professionally designed a thing. You will also have no practical experience at doing anything, and you're skills, if any, can be easily surpassed by a teenage who only messes around with a website after school.

    Get a degree in traditional graphic design. You'll be much better off.
    Chris Beasley - I publish content and ecommerce sites.
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  11. #11
    Non-Member mmi's Avatar
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    Cool "We must be on the FrontPage"

    The biggest reason I find most freelancers hate it so much is they don't find they can spend the time doing the part of the business they like. They spend the majority of the time on the things they don't enjoy.
    You also have to market yourself. Without marketing, you won't pay your bills.
    marketing your brand name and products, and monitoring your promotional campaigns is a lot of work
    this sure has been my experience - I'm trying to start a small business and it seems like endless marketing now - unfortunately I find selling as nauseating as being sold
    I literally laugh at people who say they want to go to school to be a web designer. Its like wanting to go to school to be a receptionist.
    gee, I think the way I'd put it is, "it's like wanting to go to school to be a graphic designer" - why not do something important? - like prufreeder

  12. #12
    runat="server" Golgotha's Avatar
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    Yep, I would say that HTML, FrontPage / Dreamweaver and JavaScript are now like reading, writing and arithmetic. These are skills that you are just assumed to have.

    For you college kids, first of all I think it's great that you have a chance to learn this in college. Most of us old timers had to learn it on our own. Old timer? I graduated college in 95!!!

    Skills that will pay the bills:
    Learn a database such as SQL or Oracle or Sybase.
    Learn how to interface to it, ASP, .NET, PHP or other.
    Learn some networking skills.
    Pick up another useful language, VB, C+, visual C, or other.
    Learn how to adapt, this may be the most useful in the real world.

    Good luck,
    G~

  13. #13
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    I agree with "web design is a joke" as far as it concerns the gazillion people out there freelancing and using their Dreamweaver/Fireworks package to build static webpages. I'll even include those using Ultradev or simple PHP scripts for basic database interaction sites or setting up cookie-cutter "e-commerce" sites.

    However, others have mentioned REAL web development and that is not a joke ... that is, complex database integration, content management system development, implementing "middleware" solutions, etc.

    Basically the WEB IS PROGRAMMING these days so if you are "only" a web designer still letting Dreamweaver write your HTML for you because it's too tricky to learn, then your job and skillset are a joke and your family will likely starve.

    However, that said, there is a sucker born every minute and a proper awareness of the technology reaches certain areas faster than others. In my community (small city - 20,000 - traditional redneck industries) there's a guy who still makes basic static websites but he serves them himself ... he's been doing this for 5 years and has a lengthy client list ... people here still think this guy is cutting edge and more importantly, the guy is a SALESMAN! .... he's totally ripping people off but they either don't know any better or they don't care because he's so good at the Sale ... he's got the big cars, big boats, big houses not because of what he knows and produces technically but how he sells himself and services to clients ... so IMO his skills are a joke, but he more than makes up for it in "Business Savvy".

    Still, this seems to be exception and I'd agree that for most cases if you are freelancing as your main source of income and not offering any type of serious "programming" web services or even just a competitive niche service you chances for success are basically nil ... unless you are a Business person first and foremost. Because really, does Nike make the best shoes in the world? Does Microsoft make the best software? Being successful in a capitalist society has more to do with how you market and sell your goods and services than how "good" these goods and services are.

    Unfortunately, most "techie" people I know have horrible business sense and always hang on to the dream that their technical skills are the great "equalizer" in this world. But if these skills are only Dreamweaver, HTML, JavaScript, etc they'd be better off working at McDonalds flipping burgers.
    Last edited by tdev; Aug 30, 2002 at 10:07.

  14. #14
    runat="server" Golgotha's Avatar
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    The below are the skills required for a web developer position at a company hiring in Denver I found on the net.
    ---------------------
    ASP, Windows 2000 Advanced Server, IIS, Visual Basic (or C), .Net, Visual Basic or Java script, HTML, DHTML, Cascading Style Sheets, Transact SQL, and Sybase ASE. Preferences: Unix scripting, Chilisoft ASP, and Apache web server. Related experience that will be considered is Oracle, DB2, SQL Server, and related SQL languages.
    ------------------------
    This is what they want for their web developer position, Notice is says nothing about Frontpage of Dreamweaver.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Evangelist azizur_rahman's Avatar
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    Well I dont relying on my job as freelance web developer but, what ever ammount I get It helps me with my university travel and regular expences.

    Eventhough I am with the same company for last 2 and half year working part-time but they way I work with them is rather more like contineous freelance without any gurenteed job.

    When I got that job they gave me the job title of: HTML Programmer and thats what exactly I had to do every day for about 7 months using notepad. Then they realised that It was a very slow in development they bought a copy of Dreamweaver 3 and since then I am still there.

    This days freelance web developers are countless, but finding one with good skillset and right set of both customer and sales oriented minded person is very hard.

    For the last 3 years I had people trying to work with me but truth is I cant afort to pay their salary, and most worrying thing is they dont have the right skill set, beside that I am still mastering the technology.

    As the web technology evolves everyone in this industry is a student trying to learn. but using what you learn effectively is the hardest thing for many of the newbies.

    End of the day those hardcore programmer will remain on those top paid jobs and top designer will be working for those top companies.

    Talking of job, these days everyone has a web site most people do it themself, even the cornner shop that knows nothing set-up web site themselves.

    From what I think, All freelance web developer should be thinking of learing new skill (other than web technology) and moving into a different area of industry before its too late.

    My prediction is that by the year 2008 every kid in their 5th grade (or even eairlier) will know how to do what most top web development companies does these days.

    Market in West is very saturated right now... and before it goes dry everyone should be prepared for it.

    Other thing is that most web developer (i means those who have full time position) are sometimes falling behing the technology, as most companies dont provide them training and dont interest them into new discovery in the area. It is always the developer who takes their time and money to keep themselves up-to-date with the new things. Unlike those sales position where they are paid (by the company) to go training to learn new way of selling.

    I may be wrong about last para, but thats what I know from a friend who works full time for a company.
    Azizur Rahman
    Web Application Developer

  16. #16
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    azizur_rahman,

    I think you make a great point about 5th graders doing what "Web Designers" are doing now ... only thing is, I don't think you'll have to wait as long you say as a teacher friend of mine teaches Grade 5 and they are already doing cool little sites (for their age).

    The thing is, do you see kids in Grade 5 practicing medicine or law or even doing skilled trades jobs? Not likley unless they're prodigies ... anyway, if kids in general can do "web design" it's no wonder why people won't pay anything for it and it's not appreciated.

    I'll still argue that doing a top-notch professional design with good layout, navigation, images, et al requires a skilled person even if the site is a basic brochure style ... however, you can't change people's or more importantly the market's opinion, appreciation, and value of these skills ... and that is the main consideration people must look at ... that no matter how talented they might be, if they don't have the skills that "pay", they're irrelevant.

    It's like people who still make wooden boats ... they are extremely talented and fine craftspeople who once were prized in their abilities and commanded top dollars ... now, overall, you're better off working a union job in an assembly line assembling parts for SEA RAY or any of the other boat companies.

  17. #17
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    Isn't the problem for "Web Developers" exactly the same as for "Web Designers". As someone pointed out earlier many people that call themselves Web Designers only have a limited skillset for the Web and can't work in other media such as print, they have only a subset of a true Graphic designers skills. The same could be said for Web Developers, I know this isn't always the case but often people who call themselves Web Developers can do some design, plus some of ASP, PHP, Javascript, Coldfusion and know something about databases/SQL/XML etc, however many of them have never done any software development, know little to nothing about C++, delphi, Java etc so they only have a subset of a real Programmers skills and are thus restricted in what they can do to earn money.

    Plus these people have built their expectations on a few years where anyone could earn money for designing a website, now that the industry has actually entered the real world these people moan that there is no work.

    Well there is work if you actually have skills, for instance
    in London despite the worldwide downturn for the IT industry over the last couple of years, the average earnings and demand for Java programmers has been increasing. If all web developers actually trained in a proper programming language in the first place then they would not be stuck only looking for web developement work.

  18. #18
    SitePoint Evangelist azizur_rahman's Avatar
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    what neil100 says is true about most people working as web designer or doing web sites, not knowing programing in C++ or other main stream programming.

    There are demand for people who can integrate systems and make it possible for large b2b and b2c service and there are freelancer with the right set of skills are not being paid for the hard work thay do either.
    Azizur Rahman
    Web Application Developer

  19. #19
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    Here's an analogy I've used before to try to explain to people outside the IT industry of the skills deficit of so many of these so-called web designers/developers ... I compare them to someone who calls themselves a "Mathematician" and who says he's pretty good with numbers, can add and subtract ok, can multiply as long as it's by '10's', but long division, fractions, etc is just way beyond him, never mind Calculus and the like ... unfortunately, it is this type of pure ignorance to the profession among so many bandwagon jumpers that makes it tougher for those who really do have something to offer.

  20. #20
    SitePoint Addict exhale81's Avatar
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    Originally posted by aspen
    HTML can be learned in a week. So a graphic designer can design web pages, brochures, layouts for commercials, print ads, whatever.
    Uh... Photoshop can also be "learnt" in a week, but it requires many years to master. That's the same with HTML, over the years you learn a lot of tips & trickets about it that a beginner just cannot know. A graphic designer friend of mine is often hiring me to clean up and improve his HTML code.
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  21. #21
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    I often wonder where I should categorize myself in terms of this discussion. And I'll be honest; it makes me nervous for my future in this fast-paced industry because the reality is, I am not all that spectacular in either end of the field of web design/development.

    I am the traditional Jack of All Trades, Master of None. I can build a site from start to finish, from comp to code, and all is good. But is it? I'd like to add my real life story to the discussion if thats cool.

    In some ways, I am a designer and in others, I am a developer. Unfortunately, based on some of the opinions of members here, I feel kind of stuck in between because a lack of time (at work and in my regular family life; I'm 28 and married) and money (I can't go back to school because of financial constraints in our small family) allows me to strongly move in one direction or another. I have been working in web design for about 5 years and began to code my own backends (ColdFusion, etc.) 2 years ago.

    In the design end of the spectrum, I work with both print and web projects. Print includes brochures, collateral design (business cards, envelopes, letterhead), folders, posters, tradeshow booths and weird little deals like mousepads I also do lots of web design too, laying out the comps in Photoshop or Fireworks, designing banner ads, doing some basic Flash animations/navbars, etc., and then moving to Dreamweaver to churn out soem simple HTML in prep for the coding stage.

    Now we get to my web development skills. I am well versed in ColdFusion, have dabbled a bit in PHP, and am just learning how to build sites in JSP. I know some basics of Apache and IIS, can hand code Javascript, HTML, DHTML, CSS and am beginning to grasp XHTML and XML. Building db sites with SQL Server, MySQL and Access are also on my list of skills.

    Have a look at my freelance site, http://www.kwota.com and you can see what kind of work I am capable of. Of course, I need to update my site with a lot of my more recent projects (there's that lack of time thing again), but this should give you a good idea to start with. Kwota is my company, whereas 5 days a week I work with a larger, full-time design/development firm. At this job, I do mostly interface design and all of the print work listed above. We have programmers for the coding end.

    Is anybody else "stuck" in this same spot? I'd love to hear what you're thinking, and maybe even doing about it.

  22. #22
    Non-Member mmi's Avatar
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    hey Geof - if you're a jack-of-all-trades, it may be that you'll have better success looking for a stable position with a company that needs a generalist (not so easy t' find these days) than you would trying to sell a broad range of "master-of-none" services as a freelancer - of course you could hope to snag a series of clients that need
    a site from start to finish, from comp to code, and all is good
    but those aren't easy t' get either - I think it comes down to the points made earlier about marketing - I can't give you any answers cuz I'm pretty lousy at it

    one suggestion I'd make is that you try to improve your website - you have all those skills, esp. as a group as you note - I think it's important that you have the perspective to realize yer
    not all that spectacular in either end of the field of web design/development.
    so it sounds like it would require a "spectacular effort" for you to come up with the kind of site that inspires people to think "let's buy from this guy" - believe me, I know that's another thing more easily said than done - my website has a couple of inspired afternoons worth of work in it - struggling to come up with improvements may also help you to keep an edge on developing yer skills

    one idea I've come across is to network with "masters" to get rough ideas for improvements - someone more expert in a particular field might be able to, with little effort, point out shortcomings in your presentation and probably even suggest outlines for "corrections"

  23. #23
    SitePoint Zealot jazz's Avatar
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    My prediction is that by the year 2008 every kid in their 5th grade (or even eairlier) will know how to do what most top web development companies does these days.
    Well, that's what people have been saying for years. Supposedly the human race, or at least the youth, will gradually become smarter at a younger age. My father told me about when he was younger how he had to memorize whole plays and excerpts from Shakespeare. Had to do complex math problems in his head. Nowadays, people think giving every kid a laptop is going to make them smarter. Are kids really getting smarter or are the tools just getting better and the children more dependent?

    Do you think that by 2008 kids in the 5th grade will have the skill to do what grown men and women did at http://www.whoswe.com? Even today most don't have the skill to do what disney animators did in those classic movies.


    Ultimately, just because any five year old can ride bike doesn't mean he can race in the "Tour de France". And just because it's easier today to make a website or a motion tween doesn't mean they can make professional web sites. After all, masters like Van Gogh and Leonardo Da Vinci used the same tools that little children do in Kindergarten today.

    Close to 80% of the web sites I come across on the internet are boring and in most cases ugly. Just do a search of web design companies on google and you'll notice some which make you wonder why anybody would pay money for that. Have you ever looked at the reseller's web pages at Authorize.net? Most of them are absolutely awful and these are, in some cases, very large busineses.

    I agree with what most people say here, that programming is still a valuable skill. When I was going to school for a degree in M.I.S. most my fellow students would tell me "I like working with computers but I don't want to do programming." If you think about it everything is progressing towards programming. FLASH -> ActionScript, HTML -> XML,CSS,DOM,

    Just because you can use something does it make you skillful? Has Windows and MAC made more people computer literate or are computers becoming more human literate?

    Web Design and Development is no joke.

    p.s.
    I'll leave you with this Hypothesis:
    Your average citizen in a third world country (i.e. Afghanistan, Mongolia) has more skill and technical know-how then somebody in a first world country (i.e. U.S.A., France).
    Last edited by jazz; Aug 31, 2002 at 16:06.
    The reward of a thing well done, is to have done it.

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  24. #24
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    Mmi,

    I've been thinking about a redesign for my site lately, but I have too much on the go client-wise to actually do anything. Deadlines aplenty means no fun time for me to come up with a really killer new look for kwota.com. Y'know how it is...

    I'd like to redo the entire site so it reflects more a true "artistic" look instead of the mega-corporate look I have going on these days. The version I have up currently was launched sometime back in January 2002. A lot of people really like it (clients) and then there are others (friends and so forth) that think it's too boring. hmmm, what's a guy to do? Who do I satisfy?

    I am happy with my fulltime job right now, and I am satisfied with where my freelance work is at too, but its just 2-5 years from now that concern me. With all this talk of Web Services, XSLT, XML etc. I'd truly like to be in a position where I am not outdated, but rather quite marketable. Always moving forward and progressing. I have chosen the route of JSP, Java and Linux rather than going with Microsoft (I am a Mac guy; its inherent!); I just keep my fingers crossed than Sun's pockets don't dry up too much. ha.

    Just talking out loud here the past couple of days has made me realize that writing code is where I am happiest, so that's probably where I will direct my future progress as a professional. Thanks for the responses everybody.

  25. #25
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    I agree with jazz. Who cares what the kid next door can do?
    Anyone dumb enough to put a major advertising tool into the hands of a kid or the secretary deserves all he gets.

    Need a new catalogue or magazine advertisement? Who needs marketing professionals? Get some kid to do it. Get another to do the signwriting on the window of your shop or do your income tax return. Getting married? You don't need a professional photographer. "Uncle Harry" can take a few snaps with his instamatic.


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