So a constant vexation in my first year of press photography has been the inability of others to listen to what I ask of them.
Already I sound angry and irrational but let me explain….
I spend a lot of my time doing ‘show’ pictures, showys, standalones whatever you call them they are just there to fill space and make the paper look pretty. The problem is Joe public doesn’t understand this, they think that their little story of achievement/charity is a big deal, and whilst most are wonderfully uplifting stories, the readership couldn’t give a gnats testicle about them.
And this is where the battle begins…
I arrive at one of these types of job and am met by a typically saccharine person who is so happy that you found them news worthy, they politely ask “what is the plan, what do you need” and various arrangements of other seemingly useful sentences. This is all just an act to lure me in, I suddenly feel relieved that I’m free to shoot how I want to, in the way I imagined in the car on the way over.
Me: “can I just get a couple of people/a pair/two and any relevant props you have please”
They waft away like Julie Andrews in ‘The Sound of Music’ and I’m left to await my downfall.
I hear footsteps, not just a couple, it’s a stampede. The ever so helpful being filled with false smiles and false cooperation has now returned with every single man, woman, child, animal, mineral, and vegetable they could find in the vicinity. oh yeah and no relevant props.
Did they ignore me?
Was I misheard?
Do they struggle with numbers?
I enquire as to why I have been presented with what can only be described as a scene from a frat party in a teen movie, the response is usually either..
“I thought it would be nice”
DID YOU!!!! Did you think it would be nice to ignore everything I said and decide for yourself how I should do my job, did you! Isn’t that nice!
“I didn’t want anyone to be left out”
It’s very considerate but what is worse, not being asked to go on a photo because the photographer only needs two people or being asked to come on a photo only to be cropped off because you were surplus to requirements and happened to be on the end and easy to get rid of. All that excitement of being in a photo, telling their family to buy the paper, only to suffer the embarrassment of seeing a couple of their friends having a great time…. without them….. they were on the end…… I didn’t want them.
I don’t request such small groupings of people to be mean, I do it because I’m trying to produce eye catching pictures. Now maybe there are people who can work miracles with large groups that would make you want to gaze upon them for hours. I’m not one of those people, nor have I ever met one. Photos stand out more when they are nice close up, impactful shots of one, two, maybe sometimes three people. I’m doing us both a favour, be grateful and for goodness sake do as you are told.