6 Annoying Questions (Not) To Ask a Photographer
Photography requires a lot of hard work, time spent out in the field, practicing and putting into effect theory that we have learned in a classroom environment.
It requires adapting different techniques into a multitude of shooting situations and then bringing it all down to a computer for final processing before publishing an image. It is a long, hard and painstaking effort that brings to life those breathtaking and often inspiring images.
Often, as is the case with photography, a photographer gets no credit at all for all that hard work that he puts behind those pictures.
“I mean look at that lens. Even a kid can shoot great images with that.”
Yeah, right. Try trusting your kid to shoot a family wedding.
If you want to belittle a person, then belittle his work or his ideas. Photographers are, sadly, at the receiving end of that sort of sadistic behavior more often than not.
1. It’s the Gear, right?
One of the most ordinary things to say to a photographer after he shows an image to someone is that he’s got great gear.
“He’s got the big camera, no wonder his images are great.”
I have heard this far too often. At a family wedding, after I have taken an image I have been appreciated for the gear I wield. As if the gear took the image and I had little role to play in the scheme of things!
Sure, great gear does help, but great gear cannot replace the skills that come from years of experience. After you trust the hands that hold the scalpel, and not the scalpel itself.
These days I have developed a smile, more of a smirk, which I deliver when I hear this nowadays.
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2. What Settings are you Using?
As if that makes any sense? Yes, I am using Auto, for all I care. I mean the image that I have in my mind requires me to adjust to the ambient light in the scene, whether I need to capture motion blur, whether I am hand-holding or shooting on a tripod so on and so forth.
There cannot be a fixed list of settings that I always use. I might change it from shot to shot and from scene to scene, responding and reacting to the changes that I see in front of me. That question does not make sense to me.
I was once making a long exposure of a suspension bridge in my hometown when another fellow photographer, albeit an amateur, asked me this question. He probably peered over my shoulders when I was reviewing the first set of test images and was impressed with the result. I had to write down the exact settings (exposure value and ISO) for him so that he could get a decent shot.
Being asked for the exact settings also happens when I am shooting at a wedding. People with smartphone cameras would approach me and what settings am I shooting in. As if telling them that would make a difference to what they are using.
Smartphone cameras for all the improvement that they have seen over the last few years are primarily no match for DSLRs and mirrorless systems.
With a smartphone, you can adjust a few settings here and there, like change the ISO or one of the ‘smart’ shooting modes like back-lit, or indoor, etc., but you cannot modify the exposure settings the way you would do with a DSLR or a mirrorless camera.
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3. Why do you shoot with a Nikon/Canon?
As if that matters at all. I have walked out of many Nikon vs. Canon discussions where photographers have been at loggerheads with each other over the ‘quality,’ ‘dynamic range’ and sharpness of their equipment.
I know a few photographers who are very defensive when it comes to justifying their choice. I respect their choice and have no issues even if they shoot with a pink toy camera.
I don’t even know how to properly respond to something like that. All I say is,
“No particular reason.”
4. Why are you Shooting with ‘this’ Lens?
Which lens I am using is another question I’ve heard a few times as well. It often comes as a bolt from the blue, when you are least expecting it.
Some over-enthusiast, self-made critic has this itch to dish out a lesson in right lens choice to a photographer on the virtues of using a particular lens and why s/he should not be using this or that lens.
There are no such things as the right lens or for that matter the only lens for a scene. It is all about what you want to shoot and how you want to shoot it.
That being said, there are certain limitations to each lens. You cannot expect to shoot bird photography with a 50mm prime or weddings with a 500mm telephoto.
Similarly, you need a macro lens for shooting wedding rings or small subjects with greater detail up – close. Apart from these limitations, your choice of lens is limited to your vision.
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5. Can You Stay on for Another Hour or so?
Staying an extra hour is a tricky thing. Clients are demanding, and at times those requirements become sort of over the top; too much to keep.
Such as when a client asks you to stay on for another extra hour, beyond what you had agreed. You know the bride and the groom are getting warmed up at the dance floor and we want you to capture those moments.
Sure I would love to, but you see we have agreed on a fixed time-frame. If I shoot for an extra hour, it means you have to pay for the processing and editing of those additional images.
That extra one hour is going to cost you so much in extra money. Often, when you explain in that way, sense prevails.
5. Hey, ‘Raj’ can you Mail me those Images?
Being asked to mail across those images happens all the time, but very rarely on a paid wedding gig.
My friends and family know that I shoot professionally. They expect good images when I raise my camera to my eye. The problem with that kind of fame is that at family and personal gatherings I become the official photographer. One who becomes nominated without even wanting the job in the first place.
I can oblige to a couple of such requests, but not all and every such request that comes my way. I may have taken a few images, but that does not mean that I am obliged to send out edited and processed copies of those images to each and everyone who appear in those pictures.
I may have taken those images at the spur of the moment. To practice something that was in my head at that precise moment. Even for my personal collection. I don’t care what the reason was for taking those images. Processing, editing and then sending them out photos requires time. I may choose not to process most of those images.
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