Photographers I hate – 1st part, the newbie amateur

He started taking photos about two years ago. He never before imagined that one day he’ll become a photographer, but as it usually happens, you can’t plan for a passion. Because that’s the only way he can describe it now. It all started when he bought his first DSLR ever, a Nikon to be precise. Because usually once you fall for a camera brand you never go back, isn’t it?

 

Of course, he had to learn everything from scratch but thankfully there were the tutorials on the internet, the photo-walks during the week-ends with other kindled souls – amateur photogrAphers sharing tips, advice but overall the passion. As much as his full-time job allowed him was devoted to photography. Well, being divorced and single he had total control of his free time and now that he has found his passion, his other love of video games has been put aside.

 

But you see, he discovered that not only he loved taking photos – other people liked his photos as well. Hey, someone even wanted to buy a print of one of his first photos. So his confidence grew and  almost naturally the idea of starting his own Facebook fan page to share his photos took life, and lo and behold his photo page has now 18K followers.

 

Things were getting serious, his friend, the professional photographer took him along to some sessions where he could take photos of professional models. What an excellent opportunity! He befriended some if these models and he started doing his own photoshoots. He used to joke how difficult it was to be a photographer, surrounded by semi-nude women.

 

Because you see, he has somewhat specialized in artistic nudes. He has never been prudish, quite the contrary, so when people started reporting his photos as inappropriate on Facebook, he got quite mad. It is unbelievable the amount of people who become outraged at the sight of a female nipple.

 

But trouble not always came from the prudish, no. There was the woman who told him she would like to do a nude photo session with him, but did want her photos to be published on his Facebook page. He assured him that whenever he was hired to do a photo session, privacy and use rights were discussed and respected as agree. “What, are you going to charge me to take photos of me naked?” was her surprised reply.

 

This was ludicrous! Did she thought she was doing him a favor? Couldn’t she respect his work enough and expect him to do it for free?! He complained to his Facebook friends about the whole mess, making sure that in the meantime any other woman who expected him to take photos of her naked for free would think twice before daring to do so.

 

His Facebook creative friends reassured him it was a very so common problem: people expecting them to work for free (photo, video, graphic design you name it) without realizing they had bills to pay, a family to feed. Oh, did he feel the pain! Well, sort of felt it because he still had his full-time job but hey, he also had expenses, like the internet and travel costs and hey, if his photos were professional quality, he deserved to be paid as such.

 

And soon he will have extra costs – he decided it was enough of Facebook censorship. Which was only exacerbated by the pettiness of prudish, hypocrite and jealous people. Even other photographers had the nerve to report him.

 

He was sure that his 18 thousand plus fans will follow him. No, it was not out of a morbid, voyeuristic trait that he got so many views and likes, neither the fact that he had a big network of Facebook “friends” to whom their photos were “pushed” continuously. He will show them. Hey he even got a deal for an itinerant photo exhibition. And yet he still was grateful for the undeserved attention, he had been in the profession for such a short time only! Passion plus talent are on the side of the amateur photographer, brace yourselves professional photographers! Don’t be haters! Welcome the amateur photographer with wide open arms!

 

Well, it’s true that his photographs weren’t World Photo Press material. Nor he hasn’t yet got viral worldwide thanks to those blogs the kind of “divorce thirty-something man creates whimsical self-portraits incrusting himself in silent movies stills” or the like. Maybe his composition skills aren’t great yet. Maybe his photos are on the burned-highlights side, but is a matter of personal style, you see? And his willing to defend his style till the end.

 

Maybe one day you’ll get to know his work, is a matter of months. I could, of course, link to his FB page or give you his name but truth is, I despise the man. His photos are as vulgar as himself. He’s congruent in that matter, you have to hive him that. Alas, the quality of his photos doesn’t justify his delusional self-confidence.

 

I hate him.

On secretive Sunday artists – Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier was a nanny (New York February 1, 1926 – Chicago April 21, 2009).  During her free time she took photographs of street scenes. Some of them were printed but most stayed on film, sometimes not even developed. In those times, developing and printing photographs was expensive, especially one would imagine, on nanny’s wages. One can realize the passion Maier had for photography for the time and money she devoted on it. A true and private passion, as she never show anyone her photos. After she retired, she had to put her negatives collection (more than 100,000) in storage and ultimately, they were put off for auction due to delinquent payments. It was then that the world discover her photography. Maier was a very talented photographer, with a keen eye for composition and a bold personality, getting the characters of her photos to look right back at the camera, reminiscent of some Diane Arbus photos. Maier’s photos have the added value of documenting candidly the 40s-60s urban life in New York and Chicago. They also have the added mystic of their chance discovery and the cryptic history around them and their author.

In this sense, is valid to ask oneself, do Vivian Maier considered herself a nanny with a photography hobby or a photographer that happened to pay the bills tending to children? Was she meaning to produce any significant work, and if so, why not show it to anyone? In these Instagram times, it’s difficult to imagine taking a photo without “sharing” it, some of the latest digital cameras have built-in functions just for that and press-photographers are using now mobile phones to shoot events.

The first photographers were a sort of blend of geometers and chemists, like Lewis Carroll, who happened to be also an amateur photographer. With the recent omnipresence of photography, many people that in the past would have hesitated to to do so because of price or a perceived lack of talent, have taken photography as a hobby. How many Vivian Maiers will the future bring? A part of magic has been lost, all work is out for display. The irony, with such an overabundance of photographs and photographers: which will stand out? who would be remember? Now that photographs are virtual, once files are lost or corrupted, who will find them after our death? Maier hoarded her negatives in boxes, our photos are on hard disks and scattered on servers all around the world. They are no longer our photos, who can really trace them back to their author?

Vivian Maier photographs are splendid. They’re also truly unique, something that we might not be able to recreate again.


To know more about Vivian Maier’s story:

http://www.vivianmaier.com/research/vivian-maier/


Spray, pray and photoshop (SPP)

I’ve read that a good photographer knows, among others, to wait for the right moment,the camera features, how to take advantage of the light conditions, how to compensate for them, which settings to use, etc, etc.

I’m not a good photographer, I’m a Sunday photographer with negligible training but lots of good will, as I guess any Sunday artist in general oughts to be.  Maybe I’m being unfair, putting other Sunday photographers in the same circumstances as me so I’ll have to create a new category for my particular style “Photo-butcher”. There.

The basics of the Photo-butcher method are the well known spray and pray, known since the times of film, but with the new, unlimited possibilities offered by digital photography – more intelligent cameras! unlimited storage! do-it-yourself editing capabilities!

Photography, since the Kodak Brownie days, has been embraced by the masses, but there was always a tacit acknowledgment that in order to get good images, a certain amount of skills and technique needed to be acquired. But now we have Scenes modes! Instagram filters! Lightroom presets! Cameras that compensate for motion blur, calculate aperture and speed instantly, recognize open eyes and smiling faces! Oh, and all the artistic possibilities of processing! You can have your photos on black and white, which means that they become de facto pieces of art, isn’t it? Everybody knows black and white means artsy, and the grainier the better! Or you can go all Lomo-loco with super saturated colors, burned highlights and black vignettes.

But you see, I’ve been there and done all that. Now I’m a stage of the Photo-butcher art where I would like a new challenge – real-life photography. I know, it’s not easy. I mean, how to avoid distorted perspectives? glaring tone overcasts? sharp images that doesn’t look cartoon-ish?

Let’s take this example, three photos taken at the same location, with different settings. Don’t ask me which settings because I can’t remember. I was in spray, pray and photoshop (SPP)  mode 🙂

See how the three photos have very different color settings? Well, we can always pick one and discard the rest. But if I needed the three of them for a professional project?

  

Thankfully I need not worry as my income doesn’t depend on the quality of the images I produce. That’s a rare privilege of the Sunday Photo-butcher though I guess at some point I’ll need to be more serious about revising the basics of photography and come to terms with the camera manual.  Oh well…