Imagine for a second…
You are a professional/ freelance chef. Perhaps you work full time or part time. Either way you get paid for what you do because people have recognized that you are worthy of being paid for the work/experience you produce.
Let’s imagine for a second that you have guests coming round your house for dinner, expecting a three course meal.
How would you prepare for that meal?
Because you have chosen this career path, you work and get paid.
You plan the meal/menu. You plan the experience you want to create.
You make sure all your tools and equipment is up to scratch and fully functional.
You go to the bank to be able to pay for the products/produce that you need
You put petrol in your car/ get in a taxi/ get on the bus / walk – to get to the store/ multiple stores to find the products/produce you need.
You take your time, looking for the best produce/products you can afford, because you want the best for your guests, every time.
Ok what’s next?
Get all your tools ready! Prepare your work space.
Perhaps you might peal, chop, slice them?
Do you marinade it, tenderize it, beat it to a pulp, mince it, chop it, cube it?
Do you go online, read books, watch TV programmes, take cooking lessons or observe others, in order to know which herbs and spices complement each other and create the flavours you want?
Do you buy them ready made or do you put in the time and effort to wrap that bacon around that sausage yourself? Do you use tooth pics to skewer cheese, cold meats and pickles yourself, do you buy the ready made dips and salsas or do you roast and blend the tomatoes and chilies yourself? Do you buy foie gras or make it yourself?
Do you learn about cocktail recipes, which wines would complement the meal(s), which brands of mixers or liqueurs would be the best aperitifs or digestifs?
Now here’s 3 scenarios I’d like you to think about. Within those three scenarios there are many variables, but for the purpose of making a point we’ll stick to three.
Everyone sits down at the laid out table, you serve a 3 course meal with all the bells and whistles on… and at the end of the night just before your guests leave, they let you know that they think you have the most amazing stove. Your stove must be amazing to cook such lovely meals! They walk over to the stove, see you use TEFAL pans and then complement you on your cookware. Then they see your Japanese Kinchef Santoku knife.
“Oooohhhh that knife must be so sharp! I bet that’s why the meat melted in my mouth… ooohhh yumm.”
And then…low and behold, they make sure to let you know that because of you, and the great meal they just had, they plan to buy their own Tefal pans, Japanese knives and incredible oven, because well, they want to create the exact same meals at home….
One of your guests, gets up from the table, takes his/her plate to the kitchen, scrapes half of his/her meal in the dustbin because he/she doesn’t like the shape or consistency of the potatoes, and then proceeds to get a pan out… any old pan… and starts to cook his/her sirloin steak until it can bounce off the floor.
Said guest comes back to the table, sits down and continues to complement you on your food, acting like nothing just happened…
During the second course you can see everyone is enjoying the food, the drink, the music and having a good old time.
After the 3rd course everyone is full, they sit back and start to reflect on the meal they just had.
One of the guests is very quiet, so you ask:
“How was your 3 course meal, can I get you anything else?”
Said guest responds: “I hated it.”
In shock, you look down at their empty 3rd plate and then back up at them…
You say: ” But I’m confused ?!
Why did you make yourself struggle through and finish all 3 plates of food then, around the second course you had a smile on your face, and why didn’t you tell me then? I could have prepared something else for you in a heart beat. It would not have been a problem at all. It’s important to me that you are happy. Really happy, and if you’re not, I’d like the opportunity to try again to make you happy.”
The guest responds: ” No, well, I didn’t want to offend you, so I didn’t say anything. I know what cooking means to you. But I’ve never liked food. I knew I didn’t like food before the meal but I thought, ahh well, I have to eat! No really, I know you don’t believe me, but I really HATE food. All food. Aside from the food I had last week of course… That food was ok. But it’s not you, or the way you cooked it, or the ingredients you used. It’s just me. Can’t stand food! Ewww….”
This is my question to you.
How would you feel, if you were that chef? What would you do? How would you react. Would you react?
It goes without saying that the aforementioned scenarios could quite easily;
a) be avoided
b) be resolved
c) have a happy outcome that’s mutually satisfying and beneficial to all involved.
I’ve pondered long and hard about whether I should post this, because really, I don’t like confrontation and would do anything to avoid it. I’ve been lucky enough to always receive great feedback for my work, but sometimes, and it is inevitable that this should happen, people don’t realize just how personal it is what I do.
I understand we’re all wired differently, have different interests, objectives, thought processes. All of us believe what we know is right. It’s a fact that our perception is our reality. But rather than using the aforementioned scenarios to patronize or mock those who unknowingly or unintentionally offend, I’m using these metaphors today as a way of hopefully getting people to understand the way I see it, and possibly the way many other photographer see and experience some of the responses to what they do.
It is our jobs to give a client what he or she wants, it is our job to educate, to inform about what we do. It is my job, to make people look the best they can, but sometimes, you can’t please everyone. Sometimes they just don’t get it. If you dislike having your pictures taken and you’re not happy with your personal appearance, then maybe you should consider that you are not ready for such an experience, yet. I’ve been there. Being in front of a camera has a way of revealing oneself to oneself. And what we feel about ourselves won’t always be good. Maybe you’ve woken up with a huge pimple on your cheek, or you’re having a bad hair day, a fat day, a low day… We all have them and that’s ok. Communicate/reschedule/do what you have to to feel good about yourself. To love yourself exactly the way you are now.
If you like what your photographer has done, don’t change it. If you’re feeling creative, go take your own pictures and play around with them, editing and cropping away at your own work where you have creative license to explore your abilities. If you see photographers with professional equipment, try not to assume that they are professionals, if they have big lenses, it does not mean that they are more professional than someone with a smaller lens. Cameras don’t take pictures, people do.
We tend to avoid raising these issues because really, who wants to be the bad guy? And who wants to admit they were wrong or made a mistake? Who wants to ruin a good relationship that’s been built over a long period of time? When I see some of my images chopped and changed online, it hurts. When my logo or name has been removed it hurts. When someone posts my work somewhere, which they are welcome to do, but don’t credit me for creating that image, it hurts me and it hurts my business.
I accept that this is part of the parcel to what happens if I put my work out there for people to see, and those who don’t share my passion and interest in photography cannot be blamed for not knowing everything that goes into each image I produce, so 90% of the time, I let it slide. I won’t say anything. But there comes a point where, I realize, it is my fault for not educating those around me. So hence me feeling the need to write this blog post.
“Oscar Wilde quite rightly said: “All art is useless”
And that may sound as if that means it’s something not worth supporting. But if you actually think about it, the things that matter in life are useless. Love is useless…Wine is useless…
Art is the love and wine of life.
It is the extra,
life is not worth living…” – Stephen Fry
Sometimes I document, sometimes I create art. Either way, my name is embedded within each image, not some random pseudonym, my actual name and surname. My fingerprint, my signature, not to mention my knowledge, time, energy and and creative thought goes into each and every image.
It will always be a personal process. If you are not entirely satisfied with what you see, be realistic. Give me or your photographer your constructive feedback and ask them to rectify or adjust the parts you are not entirely happy with. Also, take a look at the images you post online and compare it to what you have received from me or your photographer. Is it better or worse?
Over the next coming weeks, I will post some guidelines as to what can and can’t be done to photos before and after you’ve received them, basic legal bits worth familiarizing yourself with so you know where you stand, photographer’s jargon and explanation, behind the scenes footage of what goes on during a photo shoot, what your photographer’s expectations are of you, of the shoot/event, what your expectations of the photographer should be, ways to communicate effectively and ways to get what you want out of your experience of being photographed.