Everyone’s a Photographer?
Being a photographer means interacting with all kinds of people. On the same day you can find yourself shooting a media-savvy politician, a wrinkly archaeologist, and a crowd of hyper school kids.
Does it strike anyone else as odd that the people we photograph also own cameras themselves (aka cell phones)? This fact of life makes photography a funny business. We shoot selectively, meanwhile the public photographs everything in sight, all day long, every day.
Cameras, cameras, cameras – everywhere you look these days, someone’s using a camera. I see motorcyclists wearing them on helmets while cruising down the highway, hear young folks giggling over “selfies” no matter where I go, and seem to notice someone’s always got their phone raised up to the horizon, scanning for anything that can be posted online to illustrate a short exclamatory remark.
With millions of people shooting every day, it can be tempting to suggest that now everyone’s a photographer. Which means that professionals have to endure a peculiar set of beliefs and comments coming at them when they’re hired to do a shoot.
As in any trade, professional skills require training and experience to acquire. We invest large sums of money on updated technology, keeping abreast of the latest software and hardware. I’m just not sure if the general public knows it.
Things that Photographers Hear…
Because if the things that people say to photographers are any indication, we are poorly understood. Sometimes I have to keep from slapping myself in the head after hearing certain remarks that come up again and again. Here’s a few of these gems:
“Wow that’s a big camera! I bet it takes amazing pictures!”
I’ve never quite known what to say to this. The implication here is that the camera’s size must mean that the photographs will turn out amazing no matter what the photographer does. While I enjoy my camera’s abilities, it cannot compose a shot nor judge the best light for a shot. So yes, the camera is bigger than a phone, but it’s only a tool.
See more: 16 Hilarious Photography ECards
“You’re living the dream!”
I think people are kidding when they say this. On one hand, it’s indeed a privilege to work in an industry that emphasizes creativity and art. And yes, traveling to interesting locales is sometimes part of the bargain. But the notion that I’m skipping about the globe shooting exotic cultures while commanding huge fees and fighting off groupies isn’t quite accurate. It’s a hard job, and a fun job, but no less demanding than any other.
“My cousin is a photographer!”
Some variation on this comment usually pops up during a shoot. It’s a fairly innocent notion, probably meant as nothing more than conversation filler. Still, I’m always tempted to reply, “And my cousins have had their pictures taken.”
“Can you make me look good / thin / amazing?”
The answer is yes, I can, but only if you look good / thin / amazing without my camera. In the age of Photoshop people believe that there isn’t anything that can’t be modified or improved including their own bodies. While it’s true that I can use software to correct for skin blemishes or stretch lumpy midsections, the camera reveals what’s in front of it with unfeeling precision. As of yet, no company has invented a filter to make someone look beautiful.
“Are you going to send me copies of all these shots?”
No, I am only providing the shots you are paying me for. When you buy an MP3 file, you don’t get the many takes that didn’t make the final cut – only the best version. Same with photos.
“Do you do TFP?”
TFP stands for trade-for-prints, meaning no money is paid for a free shoot and prints. It’s a way of saying that one’s modeling skills aren’t marketable. While sometimes a TFP deal might make sense for a photographer trying to gain experience, few professionals wish to use their skills, time, and energy working for free for amateurs. So, the answer is no.
“Are a Canon or Nikon guy?”
Oh no! When I hear this I want to run fast. It immediately makes clear that I’m about to be besieged by questions about gear. I can talk about my camera’s specs but I don’t want to, plain and simple. Why? Because the person asking this loaded question wants to pontificate about lenses, megapixels, and tripod ball-head selections to keep the conversation going. Like I said, I run fast. Oh – and I use a Nikon, but don’t call me a “Nikon guy.”
“How soon will these be online?”
This one always comes up. Since the onset of digital cameras, the public has come to expect faster and faster results from us. It’s true that we no longer have to depend upon a photo lab to process film but the job of editing hasn’t changed. Yes, I know you want to post the shots on social media asap, but don’t be dismayed when I need a day or two to get them to you.
“I need this photo today, if not yesterday. Don’t worry I’ll get your contract in the mail – soon.”
It’s funny how loosely the word “soon” is defined by those who purchase photos. Some clients consider the actual purchase a very gradual, months-long process. Yet the delivery of a photo is by contrast incredibly urgent for them. Usually they want me to drop whatever I’m doing so as to send the images as fast as possible. But once the work is in hand, the process of completing the sale seems to be much less urgent. So, I budget 3 months in advance. It’s a funny business like I said.
I could go on. I love photography and enjoy interacting with people, but some of the things they say!