Tuesday, January 26, 2016

#posers...no, really...I pose people. that's my job.

Dear Life,

Now that the holidays are over and I finally put the stockings away (YESTERDAY), I can come back to some humorously ironic sense of normalcy. Humorous AND ironic in a sense that only a primarily single mother of 3 children-who works more than full time-and is finishing a second graduate degree-and has a photography business-and is trying to get a music career off the ground would readily understand. But I know you feel me, life.

So, speaking of photography business, let's talk photo gigs (as this will nicely segue into my rant)...service oriented professions CAN be wonderfully gratifying. I mean, being privy to a front-row view of major life events, or even capturing real-time memories...pfff...there's nothing like it. It's also a tremendous responsibility. And getting paid to make art from nouns that can transform into something that shows unique beauty is flat amazing. The flip side is that in some cases, sometimes, generally, people are/can be a little crazy, a touch inconsiderate, and flat out not so nice...I won't even touch the bridezilla topic, other than to say yes, I've totally worked with them...and no, I'd really rather not again in the future.

#art for minimum wage
I think it positively HILARIOUS (in a harshly sarcastic way) that people are (more than once) under the mistaken impression that photographers 1) are obligated to take their event. And then think, 2) that said photographer must discount that time. I've had a handful of people over the years who have tried to wheel and deal the photography aspect of their event like they were buying a car. It's crazy. Ask yourself what you would like to be paid if you were spending anywhere between 4 to 8 hours on-site, only then to have to go home, upload, sort, edit, and post all of the images you've collected...for EACH job. What would your time be worth? What would your end product be worth? Perhaps you would reconsider offering your photographer $10 an hour. Don't get me wrong, there are a TON of peeps with cameras out there who think they've got an eye and can do what a professional does. I'm certain they would be stoked for the/any opportunity. But I also can guarantee that you will very much get/not get what you pay for.

#it's an investment in memories
Life, there's not a fellow respected photographer that I've ever met that doesn't spend deliberate, dedicated time processing, reviewing, even editing (for their client's sake, even if the client didn't pay for retouching - they just do it because it improves the overall), before they turn those images around. For a work-intensive project (like a wedding, or senior photos, or portraits, or, or, or...), it adds up to HOURS of work before you receive a site link or an appointment for a viewing. A SEASONED photographer goes for at LEAST $100/hour for a shoot. That's a per-hour minimum. That's someone who is has a candid/photojournalistic style. Someone that is more fashion-photography oriented will go for much higher depending on the experience and effort that they pour into your project. Some will/won't charge for travel time (depending on the location), but you should know that this whole process is their livelihood. Photographers are generally IN the business because they love to do it. But these hours matter. And they will work to make sure that they capture and create something that will take you back to those exact moments every time you glance at that photograph.

#the help? huh?
Some people also will treat photographers like they're sub-human...which is ridiculous. You WANT us to catch great moments, right? When you treat us like we're less...well, it may coincidentally happen that you end up with lots of photos of your guests with their mouths full, or blinking, or whatever. Not really. A professional will be annoyed by it, but will totally maintain. Even if we want to give you an album full of blinks and oopses in reply to your poor attitude. We may just save those photos for ourselves to giggle later. Not that I've done that...right?

#that's stealing
Despite all of this (wait, I'm saving my last peeve for last, but this is a good one), it's APPALLING that people think they can steal work! Ever had a photograph with a watermark that was on a website mysteriously appear on facebook in a weird cropped format that was clearly taken by a cell phone from a computer? Scandalous. If you made a deal with the photographer, they would probably allow you the rights to use fully on facebook. But come on. If you haven't paid for the work, it's not yet yours.

OKOKOK, I know you're saying that some photographers are REALLY expensive and I just really wanted that ONE image and and and. NO. There are THOUSANDS of photographers that are out there are are reasonably priced. Some will ask you what your budget is to see if they can work something out. If you have a relative, they may even do it for less. And if you have a friend who is a photographer, they may do it just because they love you. MAYBE. But that's for them to decide. I've given plenty a session as senior gift, or the like. It DOESN'T mean that I will do it for every client. (Some one that was referred was annoyed that I quoted her full price. Her friend had only paid "this" much. I had never met this person, didn't have a working relationship with them, but I had the referrer as a long time client.) I've also discounted work because people will allow me to use their images on my site as portfolio work. I've also have photographers discount their work because I've advertised for them by way of a blog, etc. There is an honest way to use work that is not yours. Get permission. Work it out. Just don't pirate images from the little guy. That $10K that you agreed to/invested in for your wedding - that's paying for a mortgage, for braces, for a family to live...it's paying that photographer to pour their heart into their work and give you something remarkable. Don't think they have a gig like that every day. And be respectful of that contribution. Again, if it was yours, how would you react?

#magic camera
So, I think the most common funny is when people comment on my camera. In the following context: "Wow, that's such a beautiful picture! That must be some camera!" Yep. Yep, it's COMPLETELY my camera. My camera just magically creates art when I click this little button thingey on the top. Never mind that I've been handling an SLR since I was 11. Never mind that I've been professionally shooting and in the market for the last 15. Nope - thank mercy and heaven that I have a good camera! That's like someone making the most exquisite dinner and someone correlating the result to the quality of the oven. Wow, that must be SOME oven. Yah.

The truth is that someone could have the BEST CAMERA ON THE PLANET and still take shoddy, non-descript pictures. A camera is a tool/instrument. What makes it work and create results is the talent/skill/ability of the operator. Think of it in a cooking perspective: when, say, Bobby Flay uses a pan, HE works it. When a novice uses the same pan, for the same dish, it may have some noted variations or results. The pan in and of itself cannot make a dish, only aid in the the means. It's the same concept with a camera. Likewise, a master could create amazing results with a point and shoot, or even an insta-matic, and for fun, sometimes photographers do. It alters perspective. It limits some aspects of the process, but the challenge is good for growth and thinking outside of the box.

Case in point, I did a photo gig for my company. I took some manufacturing-esque photographs of items totally unique to our shop. People off of the street would not recognize some of these items, in fact many of them have an abstract feel to them, but employees walking through the plant know what they are - handle them every day. This was an artistic expression of these, sometimes mundane, articles that were posed in a different light...and noticed through this medium. I had them blown up and then it was decided to have them installed all over the facility. And that comment came out, "Wow, that must be some camera." Not really. I used my iPhone to take the images. And not a fancy 6S. My little, non-spectacular 5 series. Maybe I just got the magically-special iPhone.

 Do you think somewhere there's also a computer that will draft my work for me, or shoes that can run for me, or where can I pick up that stove that makes my dinner for me?? That would be greeeeeeat.

Say cheeeeeeese,