Monday, July 15, 2013

Photographering /rant

I've never made it a secret that I enjoy photography.  It's something I've had an interest in since I accidentally  took a pretty good bokah photo of a flower when I was a pre-teen.  I didn't even know what bokah was.  I just thought the flower was pretty.  So much so, that when I was doing a project in college which included scanning a mabillion photos, it got included.

Said pretty flower.

There are people that go to school to be professional photographers.
There are people that are self-taught professional photographers.
There are people that are amature photographers.
There are people that have a cell phone with a camera and like to pretend they are professional photographers.  Your iPhone isn't that good.  Trust me.
There are people that aren't photographers at all.

I feel like I fall in that amature photographer category.  I'm not a pro, but I like to practice a lot.  I have my "big" camera, an expensive tripod (which I've finally learned how to use, notwithstanding numb fingers), a big flash, a zoom lens, and the strap around my neck says "Nikon" (so that means something too, right?).

I share lots of photos on Teh Blog and on my personal Facebook page because I know lots of folks expect to see my photos.  Teh Bear would say that most people expect them with some sort of expediency, unlike my November vacation photos which I was still posting 6 months later, but whatevs, man, I do what I wawnt.

For most of my photos, I like to sometimes tweak them in Lightroom.  Make sure the white balance is right, make sure that the exposure is right, get rid of the red eyes, sometimes play with the colors making the photos brighter, adjust the sharpness, play with black and white colors.  There's lots of things you can do to alter photos and shooting the photo is no longer the hardest part of photography (in my opinion).  Granted, if you're shooting good photos, you're going to be doing less editing, but playing is half the fun when you're not under a deadline.

Since I don't consider myself a professional photographer, I don't ask people to pay me for skills, because usually the people I'm shooting for are my friends.  Not very many people understand the time and dedication it takes to shoot an event and to come home and do post-processing.  To that end, those people that always see me with the camera and have enjoyed my photos just start to expect me to always be the photographer.

Here's my problem with the expectations that your "photographer" friend will just photograph your next event:

Have you ever noticed how you rarely see the person behind the camera in photos?  Even if its that person in your group of friends who always has the point and shoot camera, they are rarely in photos other than self-shots (which, by the way, they've mastered, don't bother offering to take the photo of them when they are going to take a "selfie", instead grab someone else to take a photo of you with the photographer, means so much more).  That's because being the photographer creates a barrier between you and whatever is happening.

As the photographer, I see things through the lens.  Instead of getting caught up and enjoying all the pretty colors and excited faces, I look for "good shots."  Those kids playing and laughing?  Excellent action shot.  Those newlyweds who managed to sneak away from everyone for just a moment?  Perfect contentment.  That sunset over the Grand Canyon?  What's the best angle?  Have we already passed the "golden hour"?  Is my camera level?  There's a whole lot of cognitive processes that go on behind that camera to capture what's in front of the camera that creates a barrier between the photographer and the event/scene.  I don't suspect many people think of it that way since, now, taking a photo is as easy as raising your phone and snapping that one photo for Facebook, but it's true for me.  I don't enjoy a wedding the same way when I'm behind the camera as when I'm in front of the camera.  I feel removed from the event, in a sense.

Then, I bring an SD card full of photos home and import those photos onto the computer.  If I'm being super expedient, and I'm not trying to impress anyone (my 2013 4th of July photos, for instance), I uploaded many of those photos straight to Facebook to share with my friends.  1.  I was excited about the photos as this was my first time really getting to shoot fireworks photos.  2.  My friends knew I had taken photos and they wanted to see them.  I didn't watermark them, I didn't post-edit them.  I uploaded them straight from the camera.*

If I've photographed a wedding though (think 300-600 photos easy, the wedding party getting ready, ceremony photos, family portraits, decorations, people at the reception, traditions, dancing...), I'll take my time and import ALL those photos into Lightroom.  I'll make the adjustments to make sure the contrast is right, the white balance is good, the red-eye is gone, the fly-away hairs/bumps are magically vanished.  This process can take days due to the volume of photos one can take at a wedding.

There's a reason why wedding photographers cost so much.  It's time.  (Time is money, friend.  (My WoW playing Gentle Readers will get that.))  My eyes start to hurt and my brain starts to hurt from cropping and coloring and playing with the photos after so many hours.  But this is my skill, my gift, so I do it.  And this post is not me complaining about the time I put into my photography.

There's a reason that I consider my photography a gift to folks.  Because you would pay someone hundreds of dollars to do what I'm doing for free for you.  I tell people it's my gift to them.  I don't think most people understand what that actually means.  To them it means that I spend my time clicking away on the camera then come home and burn the photos to a disk and send it to them.  They don't understand why I give them digital copies with my watermark on them (because we know that everyone wants to upload those pretty photos to Facebook to share with their friends), with a note that says, please ask me for any photos you'd like to print out and I'll happily send you originals of those files.  They don't seem to comprehend the amount of my TIME that goes into what I'm doing for them.  My skill is a gift for that reason.

Again, this post isn't me whining about how much time I spend working on photos, this post is to explain why something costs as much as it does.. and to beg my Gentle Readers to give credit where credit is due.

So the next time you find that pretty photo on Facebook from someone else's page and you download it and upload it as one of your own photos or share it even, remember to give the photographer some credit if there's no markings on it to say it's theirs.  I've seen lots of people take photos from someone else's website and give no credit and people then start complement the photo, and still NOTHING in the form of credit!!!  It doesn't matter if that photo is good or bad even, give CREDIT (or call it a warning, whatever)!!

So the next time you see Teh Megan or any other photographer for that matter taking photos of an event, take a moment to appreciate their skills, their art, because their photos will provide lasting memories to someone.  If you see photos online, give compliments and positive suggestions (or even just the simple "like"), and most definitely GIVE CREDIT IF YOU DISTRIBUTE THEIR PHOTO IN ANYWAY.

*My 4th of July photos that I posted?  One of my friends uploaded one of my photos to their Facebook page, detailing the entire scenario in the description, where we were, the event, when it was.... except that in no way did they give me credit for taking the photo.  My immediate feeling was disappointment.  Why couldn't they detail WHO took the photo as part of their description?  That's my time, my work, my focus, my practice, my art.  It wasn't fair to me.  I jokingly tried to ask who took such a great shot to see if they'd tag or mention me, but nope.  I even saw one of their friends compliment the photo and they STILL didn't give any credit to me for taking the shot.

PS.  I'd love to get paid to do photography, but it seems like everyone wants to get paid to do photography now-a-days.  For now I think I'll stick to using my skills as a gift, but definitely start breaking the expectations of my friends that I'll just be their photographer for all their events.  I mean.. unless they want to pay me of course.  Then I'm game.

PPS.  Flowers are still my favorite things to photograph.
PPPS.  And "selfies" of me in ridiculous sunglasses.

1 comment:

  1. I get this. I mean, I don't take photos of events like you do, but I love taking photographs. And by the way, I do think my iPhone takes pretty amazing photos sometimes. Not always, but a lot. But I also think that has to do with how you set up the shot and knowing the limitations of the camera and what not. Anyway, I get what you mean about being behind the camera separating you from the event and making it feel different to you. Honestly, that's why I haven't taken as many photos of the things I've done lately. The weddings we went to over the weekend, I took three photos... of just Collin and I towards the end of the reception. I feel like by taking lots of pictures I miss out on so much. Like I don't enjoy the wedding as a guest so much. Plus, I've seen way too many people get in the way of the hired photographer because they were trying to get their own shots. And I sure as heck don't want to be *that* person. UGH!


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