Monday, February 27, 2012

Four Weddings, and a Weirdo

I print photos for a living. So I see all kinds of really cool, and very scary things. When I was first learning how to run rolls of film, I was handed a customer's large order and told "Go for it" and then the Lab Head went to lunch. I was excited! This was going to be great! This order would be... 15 rolls of film from the Las Vegas Porn Expo. Apparently the customer had a thing for really big, and fake boobs. Because, BOY did I see a lot of them!
There were worse things as well. We had a contract with the local police department, and I've signed several non-disclosure agreements (all of which have expired by now). I printed everything from drug bust confiscations (seriously people... if you're going to do illegal shit, don't take photos of it!) to car accidents. I had to throw up in between orders during a large animal abuse set that we printed, and had nightmares after doing rolls and rolls of film of kids on playgrounds that were taken from a sex offender.

I've also seen some truly hysterical stuff. People take photos of the absolute weirdest things. One customer had prints made of their trip to the Grand Canyon, and somehow missed that in the background of all of their family photos was this guy wearing a cape, and hot pink panties over his jeans. Seriously. They were sort of mortified when I pointed it out. Then I felt bad, because I was giggling the whole time.

I think the best though are the ones that believe they're outstanding photographers. And you'll know them, because they're the ones who will go out of their way to tell you that they are professionals. In their cases this usually means "I got paid $50 once to photograph my cousin's wedding because it was sort of a quick wedding, and there wasn't time to book a photographer, and I had just gotten a digital camera for Christmas 3 months earlier."

I can always tell the real pros from the wanna-bes. The pros never tell you they are a professional. They assume that you'll handle their photos as well as you're able, because you're a professional too. They're not printing at Walmart, or Costco for a reason. They're giving their work to you because you're not a teenager who got a 2 hour crash course in the machine; you've been doing this for years, and understand how it works.

The wanna-be will tell me all about how their process works, their artistic vision, and then warn me not to fuck it up. And I assure them that I will not. And it's true. Because they've probably already done all the damage I could ever possibly dream of doing themselves.

Over-exposed so there is no detail in any of the whites, under-exposed so badly that everything is a weird yellow when you try to lighten it.

The worst part is I have seen great stuff come through, by people who don't realise they're good at it. That always makes me sad. There is a lovely older lady who does some photos and she sells them for the benefit of a charity she works with. And she's really, really good. But she's very sweet about it. I don't think she realises how good she is.

My husband is also wonderful. But he actually closed up his wedding photography business last year and went back to school for computer systems admin after being under-sold repeatedly by these same wanna-bes that drive me so crazy.
Here's a photo from one of his weddings: 

And here's one of my photos from a wedding we shot together.

He's much better than I am, but I think we're both pretty darn good! However, I see photos come in all the time that make me angry, because someone paid their hard earned money for them, and they're just awful. But I've come to realise that photography as a profession is not respected. Anyone can buy a camera now, if they're willing to spend the money. And I can't tell you how many times I've heard "Your camera takes really great pictures!"

No. I take really great pictures, my camera is just what I use to take them.

Then there are the photos that look like they were shot by a guy with a case of the detox shakes, and edited by a five year old in Picnik . Photos like this one that I borrowed off of Wedinator, because I would hate to get in trouble for posting one of the ones I've actually printed in my lab myself.  In all fairness to this photo, it's likely that this was shot by a friend of their's and not their hired photographer, but I promise you the bargain-basement photographers that will shoot your whole wedding and reception for $300... this is usually what you'll get.

Holy handgrenades, I think this is my longest post! Perhaps I should wrap it up with a link to a video that makes me laugh. I think between my husband and I we've heard all of these come from a client's mouth.

Next entry I will tell you about how I ended up living in London, England.


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