The Ramblings of a Cynical Photographer

You know me. I am the grumpy one, the world weary, snappy snapper that grunts rather than replies with anything that has a semblance to intelligible language. I am the cynical photographer.
A healthy dose of cynicism is good, or so I am told. The problem is, what is a healthy dose and what is too much and if I have too much, will I get irrevocable camera shake or a bad case of photographer’s block? Having spent the best part of my life in photography, there are some things that really yank my camera strap, some annoyances that are better out than in. Come take a rant with me.
The Hypnotic Effect of a Tripod
The universal symbol of a professional photographer or so it would seem. Erecting a tripod has a magnetic, even hypnotic, effect on the Phuggles (non photographic folk, for those of you that need clarification). There are two types of tripod Phuggles in our world. The first is the one that makes two assumptions. Firstly, that you are a professional photographer and secondly, that because of that, you will be happy to stop what you are doing and take a snapshot of him and his family in front of the thing you are photographing. The most intensely irritating version of this is the person that feels the need to tell you where the shutter button is, because of course, with your Nikon D4 on your tripod, you really needed to know that. The subsequent request for payment often has quite a profound effect on a tripod Phuggle.
The second tripod Phuggle is the copycat. This person is the one that stands so close behind you that his breath tickles the back of your neck. The reason for this spontaneous intimacy? You must have the right angle to get the best shot and so it stands to reason that he can get exactly the same shot on his iPhone. There is a special, fortunately rare breed of this type of Phuggle, known as the stalking copycat. This is the person that observes and follows you from a distance nipping in behind you unseen as you bend down to check focus and snapping his masterpiece.

The professionals
They're behind you. Image by Lee Haywood on Flickr

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“You Must Have a Great Camera”
There is one very common type of Phuggle that really sets off my flashgun and that is the one whose first sentence goes “Amazing photo, you must have a great camera.” Of course he is right on both counts, it is an amazing photo and I do have a great camera, but in the best traditions of dodgy conclusions it is like telling Gordon Ramsey that his signature dish is so delicious because he has a great oven, although I suspect anyone saying that to Mr. Ramsey might have their hair re-arranged in a torrent of expelled expletives. We photographers are an altogether more benign and tolerant type but in my humble opinion we should be more defensive about our own talents, and explain to the Phuggles the error of their ways.

DSC_3441
You must have a great camera, right? Image by John Collins on Flickr

The Freebie Hunter
The freebie hunter is a Phuggle with many different hats. They can be editors, bloggers or even owners of charities. They all, however have one thing in common, they can promote your photography to a massive audience, if only you will give them your photo for free. Think of the exposure you can get by allowing your favorite image to be used on the Save the Squirrel website, imagine the global exposure by appearing in print for Tractors Weekly. Like you I would hardly be able to contain myself. From anger! It is of course the sheer arrogance of these people that jams my shutter but not as much as those who ask you come and shoot their function, event or wedding for free because they will recommend you to their friends. Great, presumably because they are your friends, their mind sets will be pretty similar to yours and therefore would have no desire to pay an artisan for either his work or his time.

'Am I in focus?'
Shooting for Save the Squirrel Website. Image by Peter Trimming on Flickr

Of course we might think my rants are the product of the digital age but in reality they have been around since the dawn of photography itself. The internet doesn't breed Phuggles, it merely allows them to communicate with us more easily and if I am honest, the fact that these annoyances are so common these days, actually has a much reduced effect on my blood pressure compared to the days of celluloid. This, in turn allows me to be healthily cynical about it all. More rambling rants soon.





About the author

Jason Row

Jason has more than 35 years of experience as a professional photographer, videographer and stock shooter. You can get to know him better here

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