I’ve had some time to think about this after reading Item #1 from the Digital Camera World article, “3 Things You Should NEVER Say To A Photographer”. The line item read, “Oh, could you bring your camera?”
The more I thought about it, the more it made sense and the more irritated I became. Not that asking such a question is a Cardinal sin, but it IS something that has been asked of me on occasion. Well, several.
To be honest, most of the time I don’t mind. MOST of the time.
But I guess, in order for you to see things from my perspective, I’d have to ask a question of my own:
Why? Why do people need me to bring my camera?
More often than not, they’ve already told me why. They want me to take “professional, quality photos”, as they put it. Although I don’t say it, the first thing that comes to mind is their ability to take better-than-decent photos with their own smartphones. Not saying that a photographer is not needed, but for most regular engagements, considering the advancements in technology, a smartphone photo output is perfectly suitable for your memories or texting family members. By that, I mean the basic get-togethers: barbecues, movie nights, etc.
I understand that for me to say that is low-key “shooting myself in the foot”. But when you think about it, those photos are usually shared on social media, as I mentioned before, and little beyond that. So back to the question.
Why do you need my camera/services?
I usually find it to be one of two reasons: (1) You’re heavily involved with managing the event and don’t have time to take pictures, or (2) you want those “professional, quality photographs”, not just pics. In some cases, both 1 AND 2 apply.
Thankfully, people who have called me because they want great photos, but don’t want to deviate from hosting or enjoying the fun (or burdening a guest with the task), have actually hired me as the event photographer. They understand that for the occasion, my time and attention is dedicated to group shots, planned activities and candid moments. They know I’m on it and I’ll STAY on it until the job is done. The only exceptions being switching out equipment (like memory cards, batteries and lenses), grabbing a bite (if invited to eat and they won’t take “no” for an answer), using the bathroom or just catching my breath.
Speaking of catching my breath, I shot a baby shower at an office building, but hadn’t been warned that they needed me to shoot a treasure hunt that spanned three different floors. Thank God I wasn’t video recording because with all the running, it would have looked like a reboot of The Blaire Witch Project.
Note to file: Unless a dress code is required, never wear hot, heavy jeans, even if they ARE black. And get back in the gym.
Then there was the time I was asked to bring my camera with me to my mother’s 80th birthday party. The in-law who asked also told me that they needed an updated family picture for THEIR unit (husband, wife and kids).
Quiz Question: At what point does it cease to be a simple family picture, evolving into a full-fledged family photo shoot?
Do you see where I’m going with this? It was pitched as a request for me to take one formal family photo to be shared with all of the families. It ended up being individual photos by request, multiple photos of each family unit, group shots with grandma, additional pictures of all the men, all the women, all the kids, the babies, barbecuing, card games, flying mosquitos, etc.
But God forbid you ask anyone to pay. We’re your family. This is for ALL of us, even you.
That’s when you get the questions: When will they be ready? Can we see what you took so far? Can you do another one of just him and me over here? Can you just email everything to me? Can you put them on dropbox and set it up for everyone to download? Can you send printed copies to so-and-so because they don’t have a computer?
And by the way. I heard you make killer slideshows. Can you make one of those for YouTube? You’re going to have to make one for DVD because so-and-so doesn’t have a computer. Oh yeah, make me one too…
See what happened there?
Still, I wasn’t angry about it. I knew what I was getting into from the beginning, so I didn’t gripe as I packed my off-camera flashes, tripod and lenses for the trip.
I guess what makes me angry, if not “aggressively perturbed”, is that minor requests and expectations are oftentimes the byproducts of familiarity and a lack of consideration. No one considers that the production of said “great pictures” is not immediate. They don’t care. They want it now!
No one even asks how much time is put into post-production. They’re not with you when you crop, clone, digitally remove background distractions, smooth out skin imperfections (if necessary), change colors, add filters, effects, etc.
Depending on the desired effect, one photo can take from 5 minutes to 50. That means time. That means resources. That means money I’m not being paid, for something you would gladly pay a hired photographer you hardly know. And I’m pretty sure I made my feelings about that clear in my article, “Shooting For Free”.
But hey, it’s Kenny. He’s family. He’s a friend. He won’t mind.
Actually, I do.
And don’t tell me it’s because I take really good/cool pictures.
As much as it’s appreciated, whether your compliment is genuine or not, sometimes, I’d just like to sit back and enjoy myself. I just want to eat. I just want to have fun. I just want to enjoy the moment.
Just like you.
Happy World Photography Day!
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