Common Questions


Rules for Phoon photos

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What is a Phoon?

In 1980, I struck a particular pose for a handful of that summer's family vacation photos. I nicknamed it the "Phoon" (pronounced "foon"). "Phoon" was a made-up word that just sounded funny to me. It had no connection to any other word. Since then, I have learned that it has meaning (some good, some bad) in a few other languages. It is a Filipino surname. And it sounds like the Japanese for "Is that right...I see..." But that is purely coincidental.

On one evening of a 1999 business trip, I was strolling through an upscale mall. Something reminded me of my Phoon photos from nearly 20 years earlier. I thought it would be fun to do the Phoon in another photo, for old times' sake (see the Bloomingdale's photo).

I put the old and new pictures on a web page (see The Phoons That Started It All). I invited friends to send photos of them doing the Phoon wherever they were. Soon I started receiving pictures from around the world from people I did not know.

Is this travel photography? Artistic expression? Rebellion? Celebration of life events? Demonstration of skill? It varies from picture to picture, thanks to the continued creativity of contributors. Where will the Phoon appear next? What beautiful or strange location will viewers get to enjoy? A TV personality, cancer patient, government official, and surgeon have phooned. Who will phoon next? Whatever the setting, whatever the cause, the uniting element of these photos from different cultures and countries is the Phoon.

(If you want to know how I maintain these tens of thousands of Phoon web pages, you can read the Phoons documentation for a Java program I wrote to support this ever-growing web site.)


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