As we are now well into 2013, I have to reflect on a photographic event that I covered in 2012 and what I am going to do differently in 2013.
First of all, this will probably be my only blogpost of 2013 that does not contain a single photograph. Instead, I want to express my feelings about photography both as a hobby and as a source of income.
I love photography. It is one of the best life-long hobbies that anyone could aspire to embrace. Having said that, it is not a great way to make a living unless you are really, really, really good!
I worked for a major Canadian camera retail company for ten years. Many of our commercial customers were community colleges all over the country that taught photography. On one hand it was great doing business with these colleges for the benefit of my company, but on the other hand it was sad to see what was going to happen to all those young shiny faces that were aspiring to be photographers. The reality is that despite the thousands of people coming out of the community colleges every year, very few of them would ever have a successful career in that field.
I still cannot come to grips with some people who wake up at the end of high school and then tell their parents that “I want to become a photographer.” And to the unfortunate parents who are going to fork over two years of tuition plus lab fees and equipment, it seems to be an outrageous situation. You have to know that your child has a slim margin of making it as a photographer. The world needs more bricklayers, plumbers, electricians, car mechanics, policemen, firemen—but not so many photographers.
I have this jaded opinion because my father was a professional photographer, and when I was eight years old, he bought me my first camera, a Kodak Brownie 127 which I still have. And I’m proud to say that the photography skills that I learned from my father have rubbed off on my son who, despite the odds, is making a fantastic career with his skills. And on the other side of the camera, my daughter has become a phenomenal model for the camera.
Last November I attended a very pleasant charity event for the Movember moustache for prostate cancer awareness. I brought my camera and created this blogpost:
At that event I met a gentleman who had a genuine fondness for and dedication to fine beer. We got to chatting and he said that he may be interested in my photographic skills for a shoot in the not-too-distant future. I gave him my business card and he contacted me about a month after the beer event.
He wanted me to do some environmental portraits of him and his team having a business meeting at his downtown Toronto office. My compensation was to be some unusual and exotic beers that I had never seen before.
I met the gentleman at his office in downtown Toronto. He gave me free reign of his office, letting me photograph anything that I wanted. After the one-hour session of photography, my client and I sat in his boardroom where we shared ONE BOTTLE OF DANISH BEER. Yes, it was good beer, but after a thank you and goodbye, we were done. Somehow I felt so violated. It was totally my fault for not having pre-negotiated exactly what my services would cost.
Let’s just say that this gentleman was worth a great deal of money. For the services I provided him with, he should have easily paid $450 for my on-site photographic session.
I emailed him my thoughts about the situation and to date, I have heard nothing from him. So I have learned a valuable lesson: don’t ever sell yourself short. He has received none of my photographs from that session, and until we decide on an appropriate agreement of compensation, he never will see those photos.
And so here we come full circle about the subject of photography. Just because everyone on the planet now has a camera on their phone does not make them a photographer. The food bloggers out there who continue to take out-of-focus, terribly exposed and overall horrible photos need to stop. Just as anything in life, do it right or don’t do it at all, or please, please do everyone a favour and don’t post it. Or at very least, please fix the exposure and if it’s not too much trouble, straighten the damn horizon!
I cannot understand where everything has suddenly gone wrong and the entire world seems to think that every photograph taken on your phone is worthy of posting.
My photographer friends and family will totally understand where I am coming from. The others will not.
End of rant, and I promise that fabulous photos from 2013 will follow.
Peter no longer works for free, nor should you.