If you’re looking for a little more respect in your life, consider buying a large, heavy SLR camera. Anyone who accidentally walks in front of you while you’re holding your camera will immediately bow before you with a sincere apology. Everyone will be concerned that they look their absolute best when they enter your presence, and many will ask you for your tasteful advice.
I keep quite a bit of stuff in my wallet. Not money, typically, but usually stuff like pictures and other memorable items. I say this to those who got an F in Morals class and wouldn’t mind “borrowing” a conveniently lost wallet.
Now to those who wouldn’t steal a fly if it landed in their soup; the only thing of some value that I keep in my wallet would be pretty much my whole life. Meaning, if my wallet somehow turned out to be not in my pocket, my life would be over. My life, in this context, consists of pretty much my life savings, as well as the key to my office, where you can find a beautiful Alienware computer and a camera that’s more expensive than yo momma.
So with this knowledge of what’s in my wallet, and of course my wallet, someone could theoretically steal my money, steal my identity, steal my job, and end my life. Good thing my wallet is ALWAYS in my pocket.
And now I think I’ve made it obvious enough what my next paragraph is about. It’s a very disoriented feeling when the hand thrust into your pocket pulls out nothing but pocket lint. I rechecked my pocket at least 5 or 6 times with diminishing hope each time. I traced my steps through my room, out to my car, and back to my office, which of course I can’t get into without the key that’s in my wallet that’s not where it’s supposed to be. I then called one of my coworkers who let me in, and I found my wallet under a backpack on top of a chair that I haven’t sat in since…well, I really don’t know if I’ve ever sat in that chair. Which is why I’m pretty much clueless as to how it got there.
In an age where kids wear shirts inside-out on purpose; in an age where people expose their shirt tags because it’s cool; in an age where a plain white t-shirt comes with more instructions than a Canon 1Ds Mark II digital camera; I can’t help but wonder why they make tagless t-shirts. Sure, I don’t miss the itching and scratching. But after fumbling around in the dark trying to figure out which is the front and which is the back, I can’t say that I don’t miss them just a little bit.
Yes, I know it’s just an ugly fly and not a beautiful butterfly or something like that, but the detail and clarity and composition is what I’m looking at. This is one of the first images I took with my new camera, the Canon 1Ds Mark II. If you don’t know what kind of camera that is, just know that it’s not your typical point-and-shoot cheapo cam. We’re talking major resolution and quality, and I am truly blessed to have a camera of this caliber. It’s really huge, and the thing must weigh at least twenty pounds. It has endless manual options that I love to tweak to death, and it just takes amazing pictures. Now if I can only get something prettier than a fly to hold still long enough for me to photograph it.
For some reason, I hear the words “My camera doesn’t work” quite often. Well this morning, one of the head dudes here at Mathews dropped off his camera at my office. He explained to me what the deal was, and asked if I could take a look at his camera (which happens to be the same camera that I use). So I agreed and he left. As I started to open the box, I cringed when the first thing that I saw was the bare, uncovered lens, dirty and fingerprinted. It was a painful sight as I continued to open the box and saw the beaten and scratched body carelessly wedged in tight with the external flash mount digging into the cardboard. My first thought was to check the battery. I opened it up and, to my horror, saw the battery contacts soiled and corroded. I continued to examine the camera and found that the viewfinder eyepiece was missing and one of the brackets on the flash mount was bent. And if all that wasn’t enough, the outside filter ring on the lens was broken in two places. The camera was set to fully auto as I expected, which makes me wonder why someone would have this nice of a camera and not fully know how to use it. I can’t bear to use auto mode myself because it disables so many of the advanced features.
Well I cleaned the lens for him, wiped the battery contacts, and dusted off some other crucial parts, but strangely, I can’t figure out why it won’t work. I thought about using my x-ray vision, but then it would be kinda hard to keep my secret identity. I think I’m just going to call the Camera Cops and report a case of camera abuse.
I was asked to take pictures of a local high school basketball team a couple of weeks ago. I, of course, accepted the offer and went to take portraits of all the team members. The pictures turned out pretty well, and the team and everyone affiliated were quite happy with the results.
Well just yesterday, the team gathered for a banquet at the end of the season and I was asked to take a group picture of everyone. So I brought in all my equipment and got set up while some of the moms arranged the kids just the way they wanted them. Lo and behold, another one of the moms came by who happened to be a “professional photographer.” So she took over and dictated the room and started yelling at the kids to get them where she wanted. She actually did pretty well too. So I just stood there hiding behind my camera and waited for her to be satisfied with the arrangement. When the kids were finally in order, I was able to do my thing with the camera, until… she grabbed my tripod and started moving it back. It was nice that she came to help arrange the shot, but touch my camera? Trust me, you don’t want to go there. I asked her what she was doing, and she said something about making more room for when the picture is cropped. “Cropped for what?” I asked. “I don’t know,” was the response. I didn’t say anything more, but what I was thinking was, “HELLO, I have a zoom lens for a reason. It’s this newfangled thing that allows you to not have to drag your tripod back and forth.” Needless to say, I stood there and pushed the little button on the camera. I was tempted to say, “Okay, here’s the remote. I’ve optimized the settings on the camera for the current light conditions. But since you took over the show, and you’re the ‘professional photographer,’ why don’t you just push the button.”
I’ve been asked before if I considered myself a professional photographer. But even if I was the best photographer in the world, quite honestly, I don’t think I would ever consider myself a professional. For one thing, there’s always so much more to learn. Each and every experience can be a learning experience, as well as humbling. But probably an even bigger reason is that…I simply don’t have a big enough mouth to be a “professional photographer.” Especially after my adventure yesterday it seems that, particularly for portrait photographers, they need to have the characteristics of a dictator and take charge and yell at everybody and all that good stuff. But that’s not me. I could probably manage one or two people, get to know them, interact with them, and make a natural looking portrait instead of dictating their every move. But what I find that works best for me is non-portrait stuff. Nature, macro, still, abstract, and so on. Things that I can be creative with, and put a part of myself into every picture (not literally). I even have fun taking pictures of people in natural settings, doing something other than standing and smiling at the camera. But for me, just photographer is fine without that other big fancy word.
Let me take a minute to describe to you one of a photographer’s most important tools. Not only does it keep all his equipment safe from being damaged, but it also keeps everything clean. And I won’t even mention what it’s most commonly used for, but despite both of these essential uses, the thing I use it for the most is the disposal of the secretion of the nasal mucus glands. (Yes, I mean snot.) Toilet paper is one of those things that I don’t stay far away from, especially when I’m sick and my mucus glands are very generous. I mean it, I’ve been sick for a couple days and I’ve used almost two rolls of it. Maybe some people can only find one use for it, but I say that whoever invented toilet paper deserves a lot more credit than he got.