Watching the Netflix preview, I already kinda figured what kind of show that would be, but I can't stay away from beautiful titles.
Tales by Light tells the story of photographers doing their thing. And don't get me wrong, the images were beautiful, for sure.
I was almost impressed that in twelve episodes, they managed to have one entire female photographer. That one female photographer, by the way, was the only one doing sports photography in the US. Maybe they couldn't have those fragile ladies unaccompanied in the wilderness? Okay, I don't actually know, I skipped that episode for some reason.
There also was a photographer couple working in the Mara Region, but it was almost always the man doing the talking, the rare instances she said anything, it was about her relationship with her husband. That couple actually got two episodes, and the second one is allegedly about her. Not that you would've known that from actually watching the show though.
You may already be able to guess what's coming next, when I'm talking about what they're photographing.
So, one is wildlife. Sure.
The other is culture. But, of course, that is defined in a very particular way. Non-white, "exotic", "remote" cultures. I mean, I always cringe when there are film teams sitting in the middle of a group of people and they're talking about them, without showing any interaction with them. That, with a big dose of exoticism is what I expected to get from this show, but I'm now sorry I was so prejudiced, because it turned out to be ... nah, just kidding, that's totally what it was.
The best episodes in this show (read: the worst) are where they do animals and people in one episode. I thought it couldn't get worse until that one white dude started comparing the dances with animal mating behaviour, with alternating videos of some bird and dancing people.
Not surprisingly, in the wildlife photography sessions, they get a lot more involved with local people (who, gasp, are even allowed to say things!) than when they're, well, trying to have us believe they're getting involved with local people.
In one episode, they centred everything around interactions with sharks. They went into the water, and spent the whole episode rubbing sharks and talking about their personalities and the crew's relationship with them. They managed making me see sharks see as individuals, but not the humans they photographed. The sharks were literally more humanized than the humans.
Next season, I hope they go into rural Germany and compare the competitive shooting at Schützenfest with the mating behaviour of naked mull rats or something. Complete with a photographer sticking out like a sore thumb rambling about how well he always blends into any environment, while awkwardly avoiding people offering him beer or something. (Because that happened, except he was in the middle of a Holi celebration, and trying his hardest to ignore the people around him while talking to the camera.)
I do want to rub a shark's snout now, though.