Not really feeling “myself” today. Or maybe I am? Either way, while chugging my massive cup of coffee (it IS Monday, after all) and wracking my brain for a nice, fresh topic for today’s blog, I discovered I’m really kind of grumpy. There isn’t any one thing that’s making me feel that way (well, maybe the tooth I broke while eating Easter dinner), but it’s just one of THOSE days. So I decided to make a list of “grumps” to get them out of my head and out of the way so I can move on with my week. Here’s my top ten list of photographer things that make me crazier than I already am…
10. (I’m going backwards, I know. Again, it’s MONDAY!) LIVE ANIMALS AS “PROPS”.
I’m no major animal activist, that’s a given. I wear leather, I eat meat, but my pets are my family and I have a love for animals and always have. Whether they are dogs, cats, farm or wild, I love ’em. I don’t want to live with all of them, but I love them nonetheless. As a photographer, I naturally have photographer friends. Photographers whose work I love and follow. Photographers who are my mentors. Photographers who are just starting and need a little help from a friend. That said, there are things about other photographers (and even myself sometimes) that I absolutely detest. “Spot coloring”. Composite photography. Just not my things. But the number one thing that makes me ANGRY, is photographers who use live animals as “props”. Easter is a classic example of photographers every where using cute little chicks, ducks and bunnies for their Easter “sets”. I hate it. With a passion. Did you know that those cute little “props” likely won’t live a year after their photo shoot? Did you know that if improperly handled, they are in danger and endanger the human subjects with them? Tiny chicks get trampled by overly excited or frightened children. Bunnies are very sensitive creatures and can, literally, be frightened to death. Duckies who are “loved” so tightly that they can be strangled. Can you imagine the horror your child might feel if they accidentally injured or killed an innocent animal? Easter. Ruined forever. Or your child being bitten by a frightened animal?
I won’t do it. Ever. What I WILL do, and happily, is photograph your family with your family pet. Bunnies, chicks, ducks, dogs, cats, horse… whatever. As long as YOU are in control of your kids AND your animals, I’m happy to do it. Like I said, my dogs ARE my family. And I am a FAMILY photographer.
9. “YOUR CAMERA TAKES GREAT PICTURES.”
Why yes, it does. I taught it everything it know. Good GRACIOUS people! Just because you own a race car, doesn’t make you a NASCAR driver! Yes, I have a nice camera. But more than that, I have spent over a decade LEARNING that camera and photography in general. And I never stop. I try to pull at least one educational video, article, book or class a WEEK and never stop learning or attempting new challenges. Some of you may have seen my recent (albeit pathetic) attempts at composites. Or shooting the moon. I consider both of those things HUGELY DIFFICULT, but hey, I’ve learned some new settings (those things you use when that “nice camera” is in manual mode) and some new computer skills and eh, I’ll keep trying!
8. “YOU MUST HAVE AN EASY JOB, JUST CLICKING A BUTTON ALL DAY.”
Um. I WISH! If you are having a session with me, I have likely spent literally HOURS preparing for it, before we ever meet in person for that shoot. I have probably spent time asking you questions, preparing a “set”, researching poses and yeah, if I don’t know you very well, I’ve probably stalked you on Facebook to see what you like and don’t like. Then, I’m spending a good amount of time actually setting UP the backdrop, lights, camera settings, and props. So, we have a session. Sometimes it’s quick, sometimes not so much. I constantly continue to check the lighting, the set, my camera settings (that really NICE CAMERA doesn’t do that itself, you know!), and try to make you as relaxed and comfortable as I can. But it doesn’t end there. You head home (hopefully smiling at some silly thing I’ve said or done) and I REALLY get to work. I need to download. I need to cull (more on THAT process later in this list). I need to upload to an editing program. I need to edit those photos so you look and feel your absolute best. Then they need to go to a proof site. And then I hold my breath. Waiting. Hoping you love the images as much as I do. Nope, still not done. Now we need to spend some time and decide the best way for you to display those images. We need to order prints. And products. And then when they come in to me (I RARELY will ever have them direct ship to you, I’m too picky, too anxious), I need to package them up and make arrangements to get them to you. None of these things I MIND doing, it’s just time consuming. All in all, of COURSE, I’d rather just be pointing and clicking… but then it would just be my “NICE CAMERA” and not my art. My passion. My love.
7. YOU MUST MAKE A TON OF MONEY. PHOTOGRAPHY IS ALL PROFIT!
OH heck no! Some weeks I take home nothing. Zip. Nada. Zilch. Surprised? Well, there are taxes to be paid. I have insurance that covers not only my equipment, but YOU. Yep. YOU. And it’s not cheap. And the constant learning I do? Also rarely free and usually not cheap. Oh, and props. Yep. I make some of them myself. But heck, I’m no miracle worker either! I still have craft supplies, backdrops, pillows, chairs, baskets, equipment and a million other expenses. Shipping. Packaging. Editing programs. Yep. All cost $$$. I’m not in this to become a millionaire (but heck, wouldn’t THAT be awesome!), but because I love it. And yes, I love the flexibility it affords my own family. Not always though. Those times you are “free” for a shoot, are usually the same times MY family is “free” so I’m also giving up my family time to spend time with yours. That I can’t put a price on.
6. I’D LIKE TO INVITE YOU TO MY PARTY (WEDDING, EVENT, REUNION, FILL IN THE BLANK), YOU’LL BRING YOUR CAMERA, RIGHT?
While I’d like to think that I’m THAT popular, chances are that I’m not. Sure, we’re friends and I think your kids are ADORABLE, but I’ve got teens now. I don’t really NEED to attend the crazy free for all children’s parties any more. I appreciate that you’d like my presence, but no, my photography is not your PRESENT. It’s my job. And if I want to attend a party, I certainly don’t want to work! Same goes for your cousin’s best friend’s husband’s sister’s wedding. Or class reunion. I probably remember so and so, but that doesn’t mean I want to come hang out and work while y’all socialize. Don’t take it personally. And I’ll try not to when I’m no longer invited.
5. CAN I EDIT MY OWN PHOTOS? WOULD THAT BE CHEAPER?
Well, I’m sure you can. And heck yeah, bring your point and shoot, I’ll point it, shoot it and charge you less. But no. Not really. Editing the images I take is my art. That’s like asking Andrew Wyeth to paint Christina and then saying you’ll just paint the rest of “Christina’s World”. Nope. Not gonna happen.
4. WHICH IS BETTER CANON OR NIKON?
I never know how to answer this question and I hear it a lot. I shoot Nikon. I shoot Nikon because I learned on film Nikon (yes, I’m THAT old). All my lenses were Nikon. That’s a big expense. When I switched to digital, it only made sense to switch to a DSLR that was compatible with those lenses. Why Nikon in the first place? It was comfortable. Literally. It felt good in my hand. Is Nikon better than Canon? Probably not. Depending on the model, they are probably pretty similar. It is REALLY a comfort thing. And I don’t really know the answer because I have never shot Canon. I likely wouldn’t know where to find ANYTHING. Honestly? One of the best cameras I ever had was a Fuji point and shoot. I won two national contests and was published in two national magazines with that camera. A point and shoot. Film. Go figure.
3. CAN I HAVE ALL THE REJECTS TOO?
Aw, sweetie, you don’t trust my judgement? No. Just no. I am the QUEEN of the OUTTAKES! I love to give you the random photos that are silly and fun and not what we were going for…. but will I give you sub par photos? No. I’m not going to give you the shot of Uncle Bob inappropriately scratching himself that I caught by mistake. I’m not going to give you the shot that was really at a bad angle and makes you look like you have 5 chins. I’m not going to give you the one where your daughter’s underpants are the main focus of the photo. Again, (sorry to be sounding like a broken record) but my images are my art. I won’t give you anything I would not be proud to say is hanging on your livingroom wall.
2. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.
I hate when I hear “I found someone else that will do it cheaper.” I am always, ALWAYS willing to listen and attempt to give you a customized session and/or package. But I won’t demean myself by getting into a situation where I am not earning my worth. If someone is willing to give you unlimited photos, unlimited time and everything on a CD for you to print, edit, whatever for a cheap price, you need to be cautious. It is highly likely that you will not be getting the family memories preserved in the way you deserve. EVERYONE is a photographer these days. It is so easy to go buy that “NICE CAMERA”, put it on automatic and shoot away! BAM! You’re a photographer! But honestly, I took a lot of time, energy and money to become certified, insured and experienced. It wasn’t easy, nor was it quick. And I am still my own worse critic. And I am completely fine with hearing “we went with someone else because their style was more in line with ours”. Really. One of my best friends is a photographer. We collaborate and shoot together on occasion. You could never find two more different styles! We can be in the same position, shooting the same subject and our photos look nothing alike. But to go with the cheapest because they are the cheapest is not a good choice. Not at all.
AND MY NUMBER 1 GRUMPY ANGRY COMPLAINT OF THE DAY??!!!!
1. I’M TOO FAT, TOO UGLY, TOO OLD, TO HAVE MY PICTURE TAKEN. JUST TAKE PICS OF MY KIDS, PLEASE.
Mamas. No. You don’t need to wait to lose that 20 lbs. Or put on make up. Or go get a new outfit. Or (if you’re me) take a shower. My mistake when my children were younger? Not passing the camera to my husband. We have a decade of photos of my husband and kids at all the “important” events – holidays, birthdays, sports, theatre, etc. None. Of. Me. I think my grandchildren will some day think my husband was a single parent. I have changed my way of thinking. Guess what? Your kids love you. Just. The. Way. You. Are. And they will be sad someday to not have those memories of you captured. Even if our session is for the kids, whether they are babies, littles, bigs or senior photos, I am inevitably going to ask (and probably try and sneak in) for a photo of you with them. In this case, thank GOODNESS for cell phones and selfies! I try to get one every so often with me and both kids. And sometimes the dogs. And on Mother’s Day every year, I pass the camera to my husband. Just one shot, I say. And I barter with my photographer friend, I’ll do their Christmas photos, if she does mine. It works. And I even sometimes pass the camera to a friend and say “just one, please?”